HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

King Chulalongkorn the Great

Dental Science Museum inaugurated at Chiang Mai University

Chiang Mai’s oldest teakwood hotel preserves traditions

American Airline Ambassadors, Medical Wing come to Northern Thailand

First Hand Bali Report

King Chulalongkorn the Great

Fond memories of a Great King

Last Wednesday, October 23, the Kingdom of Thailand observed Chulalongkorn Day. It was a national holiday, and as such, all banks and most offices were closed for the day. The following is a tribute to a great King in Thailand’s history.

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V) was born in 1853, the son of His Majesty King Mongkut (Rama IV) and Her Majesty Queen Thep Sirinthorn. In 1868, He was given the title Duke ‘Meun Phikhartnaresueansurasangkas.’

King Chulalongkorn ascended the throne in 1868, with the title ‘Phrabat Somdej Phra Paraminthra Maha Chulalongkorn Bodinthorn Thep Phaya Maha Mongkut Burutsaya Ratanaraj Rawiwong Warut-tapong Saboripatara Wora Khatiyaraj Nikarodom Jaturatana Borom Maha Chakarapaddiraj Sangart Boromtammika Maha Raja Thiraj Boromanat Bopitara Phra Chulachomklao Chao Yoo Hua’.

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn lived with one purpose in his mind and heart: the happiness and well-being of the Siamese people. His Majesty would often dress as a commoner and move among his people with only two or three advisors. In this way, he could find out how his subjects really felt and see what was happening in his Kingdom.

There is one famous story of His Majesty and two counselors who, after a hard day’s travel, stopped at a farmer’s house to ask for a drink of water. Rural hospitality being a hallmark of Thai people, the family asked the three strangers to stay and have food with them. Speaking freely, the farmer and his wife told the strangers of how their life was progressing and what they would like to see done for their village by the ‘Great King who lives in the Palace in Bangkok.’ The farmer’s son noticed that one of the strangers looked familiar. He went and looked at a daguerreotype the family had of the King. Running back to the group, the family learned that they were serving food to the ‘Lord of Life’ in Siam. King Chulalongkorn the Great did this often and thus became ‘in touch’ with the needs of the Siamese people.

Another story of the great love and respect happened in 1893. The territory hungry French had formulated a plan to take the Siamese territory of Laos and certain valuable territories on the Eastern Seaboard which produced precious rubies and sapphires.

In a carefully formulated plan, a French warship entered the Chao Phraya River. It was required by international law that all foreign ships fly their colors when entering the waters of another sovereign country. The French deliberately did not do this. When hailed by the river guard to fly their colors, the French ignored the guard. The guard fired a warning shot over the French ship’s bow.

The French Embassy in Bangkok was prepared in advance to carry out the plan. Bringing a letter sent from France months before the incident, it stated that Siam had performed an act of aggression on the French and must pay huge reparations.

The French were not prepared for what happened next. Hearing of the huge demands, Siamese both wealthy and poor brought cartloads of jewels, precious metals and every valuable possible to the Royal Palace and offered it to His Majesty to keep the French out of Siam.

The French had not imagined that Siam was so wealthy and the people so devoted to their King.

Siam was able to pay the reparations but the French, deciding this was not enough, took all Siamese territory east of the Mekong River.

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn was wise, knowing that Siam could not resist the French and British and held the motto of ‘giving up some so as not to lose all.’

Siam lost over 160,000 sq. kilometers of territory to the French and British. She also knew that she was a ‘buffer’ state and it was in these two countries interest to ‘use’ Siam.

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn was the first Siamese monarch to visit the West. He believed in adopting all things good from the West while Siam kept Her culture. The wise King Chulalongkorn made Russia a strong ally of Siam to counteract the British and French influence in SE Asia. He followed the Chinese concept of ‘have strong allies but make sure their borders are far away.’

Many of the Royal Princes were sent to study in Russia. In His letters to His sons, King Chulalongkorn wisely warned them ‘do not feel that you are important because you are a prince. In Siam, there are many Princes, whereas in Russia there are few. Do the best you can at your studies and that is enough.’

King Chulalongkorn’s most noteworthy achievement in Siam was the abolition of slavery. He did not do this in a haphazard manner as it was done in other countries. He devised a complex method of ‘freeing’ slaves so that older ones would not be left in poverty with no place to live. Younger slaves were to be released by ‘stages’, responsibility falling to the owner to see that they had a way of supporting themselves.

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great is beloved of Thai people and considered a truly ‘enlightened’ ruler among historians. His Majesty died on October 25th, 1910, after the second longest reign in the history of the Thai nation.

He is remembered and loved by the Thai people and the date of his death is commemorated every year. Ceremonies are held, offerings are made to his memory and the entire student body from the university that bears his name perform obeisance before his statue.

Would that all countries were so lucky to have one such enlightened ruler in their collective histories.

Dental Science Museum inaugurated at Chiang Mai University

Metinee Chaikuna

On the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of the Faculty of Dentistry, Chiang Mai University, Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana Kromluang Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra graciously presided over the opening of the faculty’s Dental Science Museum “Thaworn A. Rajadhon”, and the Dental Research Center in the Faculty of Dentistry, Chiang Mai University.

Her Royal Highness Princess Galayani graciously presided over the opening ceremony of the Dental Science Museum at Chiang Mai University.

The grand opening took place on October 18, and Assoc. Prof. Virush Patanaporn, the dean of the Faculty of Dentistry and Asst. Prof. Dr. Nipon Tuwanon, president of Chiang Mai University gave the welcoming speeches.

Her Royal Highness Princess Galayani took special interest in some of the items on display at the museum.

Two Professors from Germany, Prof. Dr. Dieter K. Schlegel and Professor Dr. Peter A. Reichart who have encouraged and supported the faculty’s activities in the academic field, were also on hand to witness the historic event.

In selecting the dental items displayed in the museum, the Dental Science Museum had three aims - to highlight and encourage the development of the intellect, to emphasize the importance of materials, and to underline the significance and value of collaboration. There are further objectives including the information and display of materials concerned with dentistry; and displaying the technological tools and instruments and improvements in dental science and to indicate possible future developments in the dental field and encourage research work.

Her Royal Highness Princess Galayani toured the exhibits on display at the new museum.

The museum is located in the 7th Building of the Faculty of Dentistry next to the library on the 5th floor.

The Dental Science Museum “Thaworn A. Rajadhon”, and the Dental Research Center in the Faculty of Dentistry, Chiang Mai University was officially opened on October 18.

The Dental Research Center has been established to encourage, support and develop research work, to promote research to the highest level for the faculty’s staff. The faculty has been able to incorporate findings from the Research Center to improve results in the faculty’s clinics, and to resolve dental problems and to provide new information.

Chiang Mai’s oldest teakwood hotel preserves traditions

Story and photos by Phitsanu Thepthong

The Sriprakard Guest House was built over 100 years ago by Por Srimo Vichai, the first Thai from Chiang Mai who visited the USA. Built in teakwood, the Sriprakard was copied from a Western design. After Por Srimo passed away, the guesthouse was taken over by Chiang Mai ‘s first MP, Luang Sriprakard, from whom it got its name.

Sriprakard Guest House

After the end of WW II, Luang Sriprakard turned the former guesthouse into a hotel. The architect he used was Yonok Sritrapai, who was also an architect of the State Railways of Thailand (SRT). He was also his nephew.

At first, the hotel had only 16 rooms but over the years much has been added to the building. The second building was constructed in 1965. Opening with only 7 rooms, the second building now has 24 rooms, 12 rooms upstairs and 12 rooms downstairs and was built with old wood to maintain the character of the hotel.

Ms Buachaorn Wichayapai and her daughter Ms. Kingkaew Sucharitpanich look after the hotel and guesthouse.

Some of the quaint features of the hotel include old refrigerators on the ground floor that still work, although they don’t much look like they do, open-air hallways with blinds on the second floor that can be lowered during the rainy season, the hotel’s old balcony on the second floor of the old main building where guests can sit around reading, relaxing and viewing the Ping River and Doi Suthep Mountain scenery out front.

Most likely once considered “state-of-the-art”, the rooms are now considered to have old world charm.

Although they don’t much look it, these old refrigerators on the ground floor still work.

Some of the hotel’s windows and walls were kept in the original Lanna style. Sriprakard Chinese cuisine is located out front, close to the main building, and there is a playground behind the main building. Hotel management proudly announced that “drugs and prostitutes are not allowed into the hotel”.

The now 40-room hotel and guesthouses is managed by general manager Somboon Jarmornman, who has been overseeing the recent renovations in the old main building, ensuring they blend in with its original style and identity.

The hotel was previously very popular with the pilots and crews of Thai Airways staff and military officers. Famous guests have included author and novelist, Por Intapalit, who wrote “Pol Nikorn Kim-nguan.”

At over 100-years-old, the Sriprakard Guest House is regarded as one of the oldest buildings remaining in Chiang Mai that hasn’t undergone major changes.

The “charm” of a 100-year-old plus hotel and guesthouse.

These days the Sriprakard Guest House is a budget priced hotel, but is one that has had a long and interesting history, and is a landmark in Chiang Mai. It is regarded as one of the oldest buildings remaining in Chiang Mai that hasn’t undergone major changes.

The Sriprakard Guest House is located the east bank of the Ping River on the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, near the Lamphun bus terminal, and very close to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. The guesthouse offers views of boats cruising along the Ping River and Doi Suthep Mountain off in the distance. Ping River bridges and other city landmarks, such as a Christian church, institutions and other old buildings are nearby.

Open-air hallways allow cooling breezes to filter through the rooms.

The old building is undergoing renovations.

At present, Ms Buachaorn Wichayapai and her daughter Ms. Kingkaew Sucharitpanich look after the hotel and guesthouse.

The hotel and guesthouse is undergoing renovations, but will still keep its charm.

Guests can sit around reading, relaxing and viewing the Ping River and Doi Suthep Mountain scenery out front on the hotel’s old balcony on the second floor of the old main building. The open-air hallways on the second floor have blinds that can be lowered during the rainy season.

American Airline Ambassadors, Medical Wing come to Northern Thailand

Metinee Chaikuna

Children with disabilities from 8 provinces in the north were recently treated to a fun day and free medical care from a group of visiting medicos from the USA.

Staff at the Special Education Center in Chiang Mai gather to say a big thank you to the visiting medicos from America. (Photo by Nuttanee Taveepol)

The American medical visitors were from the U.S.A. Airline Ambassadors, Medical Wing, and the event took place at the Special Education Center in Chiang Mai under the care of Ajarn Prayadht Songkham, the director of the Special Education Center, who gave the group a warm welcome.

The children at the center had disabilities that needed treatment from the American doctors. The children came from Region 8, which covers the 8 northern provinces: Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Phayao, Nan, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, and Chiang Mai.

After the fun and games, the doctor provided free health checks for the children. (Photo by Nuttanee Taveepol)

The members of the medical wing consisted of a pharmacist, a registered nurse, medical staff, a dentist, a medical doctor, and the medical mission director, Dr. Glenda Johnson. The visitors wore clown suits to entertain the children and after the ceremonies, the doctor gave free health checks to the children.

AAI, Medical Wing is an NGO of 2,500 members and was founded six years ago. The president is Nancy Rivard, a flight attendant for American Airlines. The group was pioneered by Glenda Johnson, who has been to over 30 countries with volunteer medical professionals from around the U.S.A. Glenda said, “I believe in hand delivering medical attention, helping heal the bodies with caring and sharing.”

The visitors wore clown suits to entertain the children - after all, laughter is the best medicine. (Photo by Nuttanee Taveepol)

Glenda also thanked their host and hostess in this country, Hartanto Gunawan and Rajni Chalermporn.

First Hand Bali Report

The Chiangmai Mail received the following from a friend, and although at times it gets a bit graphic, it nonetheless provides a staggering first-hand account of what actually took place in Bali, written by a member of the Australian armed forces who happened to be on leave and taking R&R at Kuta Beach, Bali when the tragedy occurred.

To all my friends,

Firstly, I’m fine. Extremely, and I am talking extremely lucky. The doctor made me have a blood test as a precaution as I got a lot of blood on me from other people, but assures me it will be clear.

Yes, I was there, about 30 or 40 metres or 10 seconds away to be exact.

Thank you very, very much to all those who called me, sorry I was short, but from the email you will read why that was the case.

Ok, here’s how it happened...

I had been in Bali for about 10 days and had an excellent time up until the night of 12 October. I had gone away with some excellent people I have been working with here in East Timor with the UN. Mike a NZ Air Force Squadron Leader, Nick a Riot Cop from Liverpool in the UK and Francisco a Captain from the Portuguese Paratroopers. We had been white water rafting, jet skiing, parasailing and drinking a truckload of beers. Which is pretty much your standard Bali holiday. I have even got a bloody good tan.

Every night was about the same. Have an afternoon siesta, get up around 8 p.m., dinner until 9.30 p.m., get to Paddy’s by 10 p.m. for Happy Hour. Then over to the Sari Club sometime between 11.30 p.m. to midnight, home nice and early (never before 5 a.m.). Call us creatures of habit, but other than Paddy’s or Sari, there’s not much else. That was where all the Aussies and other westerners went to, and every night both places were packed.

The 12th was no different, had dinner, we were joined by some backpackers from the UK, Lucinda and Anna. They had just flown in from Cambodia and we were swapping stories about drinking in Phnom Penh. We arrived at Paddy’s after 10 p.m. and one of the lads bought the first round, some absolutely crap German beer which was on special. I drank half, which I was not enjoying, keen for a Carlsberg. I had been meaning to go to the internet cafe that day and transfer some of the USD I have been earning in East Timor to another account. I wanted to do it as the cash was building up and would be better paying off my mortgage. I thought now was a good time, rather than trying to do it after 27 beers. So I headed off to the internet cafe, ANZ internet banking wasn’t working after 4 attempts. So I decided to have another beer with the lads and try again.

I walked back to Paddy’s and the next round they had bought was again this crap German beer. There was a German guy who had joined the group and was standing next to me; I saw his name hours later on the list of dead on the wall of Denpasar General Hospital. That night nothing was out of the ordinary, the same as every other night we had been there before. However, when I think about it and talking to my friends, there was one thing. When I returned to Paddy’s, on my left was the German guy, and on my right was a Middle Eastern looking male who was very much out of place. He was wearing a blue and white-striped shirt and his eyes were very weird and he was sweating heavily. He was not drinking and was just looking at the place, not at the girls, not at the TV, just keeping a look out. He didn’t like making eye contact with me, and dropped his stare. I thought it was weird, but that was all. My mate Nick thought the same. We passed this onto the Federal Police in an interview today.

I had a quick chat and told them I would be back to buy a round of Carlsberg. Mike turned and said to me, in all seriousness, “Cocksy its you last night in Bali, you have to go out with a bang”. In about 2 minutes from then, he wasn’t further from the truth. I had a look at the dance floor at the back, full of people, then headed up stairs to have a look. It had crossed my mind to go to the toilet, but for some reason I still do not know now, I went up the stairs. The top dance floor had a few people on it but not a lot going on, I headed back down the stairs and saw the guys weren’t ready for another beer yet. So I decided to go and try the internet bank again while I will still sober. The guy in the blue and white striped shirt had gone. So I headed out onto Legian Street towards the internet cafe.

I was about 10 seconds away from the front entrance, or about 30 or 40 metres when the first blast went off. The power was cut and I knew something was wrong. About 2 or 3 seconds later hell on earth started. The blast threw me on the ground and I was covered in glass. The flames rose 50 metres into the air lighting the area up and I could see the silhouettes of many people in front of and in the blast. The Sari Club and Paddy’s were in flames. I had to get out of there and find my mates. I located Nick and Francisco, they couldn’t hear me as their hearing was damaged in the blast. I couldn’t find Mike, Francisco had seen him get out but was running towards to the Sari. They had Anna and Lucinda with them; Anna was in a bad way with a badly burnt back. I picked a girl up who was in a really bad way, she was from Geelong and I found out that later on she died - 95% burns to her body. We took them back to the hotel which was not to far away. The front lawn of the hotel was awash with blood and the smell of burnt flesh. I was gagging carrying that girl back.

We gave what first aid we could on the lawn; most people were standing around doing nothing. It was hard to get people to even get a blanket from their room. The Balinese cab drivers were not taking people who had blood on them. We organised the owner from the hotel to take the critical ones in his ute to the hospital. We then found Mike, initially he looked fine. It was a big relief as I was planning to go back to the Sari and Paddy’s to look for him. After he had been there for 5 minutes I saw his back, it was burnt so bad it was bleeding, blistered and blackened in places. We all must have been running on adrenalin, as he still had no pain. I then grabbed my phone, passport and torch and told Mike I was taking Anna and him to the hospital.

I called home and to East Timor on the way to the hospital. In 15 minutes my phone went mad and did not stop for the next 24 hours. The General in East Timor directed that I stay in Bali and give updates on the general situation, medical situation, and account for all UN personnel in Bali on leave. I was their only contact on the ground. At that time I knew that there was about 30 Portuguese Paratroopers on leave there who all went to the Sari every night. I checked Mike and Anna into a clinic in Kuta who handled ex-pats; the place was out of control.

I then got in a cab and headed for the Denpasar General Hospital, which is the biggest hospital on the island. What I saw there will remain with me forever, it was totally out of control and made me realise how lucky I was. The place was like a scene from WW1 movie in a trench hospital. Dead people everywhere, people so burnt they were unrecognisable, people screaming, people getting CPR, and the worst part was that most of them were Australians aged between 20 - 30. I arrived there at 12.30 a.m., an hour after the blast. I rang East Timor and told then to get medical people there ASAP, they started planning a medical team to fly in from Dili. I don’t think any hospital in the world would have been ready for what happened, and Denpasar General certainly was not.

I then spent the next 4 - 5 hours looking for UN personnel, some were in different hospitals with burns and shrapnel wounds. They were discharged or about to be discharged. I made it back to the clinic where Mike and Anna were, Mike was flying on morphine by then. The UN started sending me faxes of lists of UN personnel which had to be accounted for. I could account for some from going to the hospitals, but there was still some 40 unaccounted for, and this was at 6 a.m. the next morning. Francisco was also with Mike so we set off to find these Portuguese and Brazilian soldiers on motorbike. As the Sari and Paddy’s were basically in the middle of Kuta, the quickest way to get to these hotels was to get through the crowds of locals who were gathering around the site and walk through the site. Armed with my army ID we crossed through. The Indonesian police and army had already started getting the bodies out, which was now a row about 50 or 60 metres long. Some of them were covered, but it looked like they had run out of body bags hours ago, and then ran out of white sheets, so the badly burnt ones were lying in the sun.

After hours of bashing on hotel doors and walking around the hospitals looking at the injured and some dead, we were still one Portuguese paratrooper and one Brazilian soldier missing. They were both on the main dance floor at the Sari at the time of the blast. I believe they are in the morgue in the area with the unrecognisable bodies; however, we are still hopeful that they may have been accidentally evacuated to Australia due to sloppy Indonesian paperwork, though very unlikely.

I ended up getting 4 hours sleep between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Monday morning, to be woken up by a call from the UN saying that we were going to be evacuated back to Dili and I was coordinating the first flight and Francisco the second. The first flight was on Monday night, the second on Wednesday morning. I took most of the Portuguese and Brazilians with me, leaving a few behind to identify the bodies if needed. To date they still do not have a positive ID.

Funnily enough one of the harder things I had to do was get 40 of them onto the UN jet. Once they passed through the express immigration I had organised, they didn’t understand what proceed to Gate 9 meant. As a result they ended up getting drunk at the bars around the airport. The UN Air Ops guy told me the 2 hour delay had cost the UN $20K USD, I told him the lads had all had a hard night!

After hitting the deck in Dili I slept for about 20 hours and then I briefed and got I debriefed. Over the last two days I have just been chauffeured around to the General, my Colonel, the doctor, the psychs, the Federal Police, the Portuguese Commander!

I go back and see the doc on Friday and will be heading back to my border post on Monday. I am fine and have not turned into a nut case or an alcoholic (well not anymore than the amount we were drinking in Bali leading up to the 12th!).

One thing which I am very aware of when I watch the media coverage here is how lucky I am. I see a lot of familiar faces on the TV, particularly the football and rugby lads. I spoke with them all at the Denpasar Hospital. I was lucky to get out and so were my mates.

My mates?

Mike? He has got 10% burns to his body on his face, hand and back. He’s now in the plastic surgery area of the burns unit of Singapore Hospital. He tells me the burns have added to his rugged looks, and even though he is married the chicks will still love him! Also having some problems with his hearing - awaiting tests.

Nick? Unconfirmed, but looks like deaf in one ear. The other ear is potentially repairable. Big cut on his foot and head, all patched up. Evacuated to Darwin.

Francisco? Same problem with hearing. Severely burnt ear and shrapnel wounds to his back. Evacuated to Darwin.

Lucinda? Shrapnel wounds to her legs, all patched up. Evacuated to Sydney.

Anna? Burns to her back, not as bad as Mike’s. Evacuated to Sydney.

So don’t worry I’ve got 8 lives left! Stay in touch; take it easy, and like I say cheers and beers.