HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Elephant Rally proves popular with elephants and riders

Charity somtam auction gets 6000 baht for one dish

Winners of Panda Logo Design contest announced

Crispy glass noodles with Thai herbs wins new menu item award

One last party

Bytes, Bits & Mega Tips

Elephant Rally proves popular with elephants and riders

Wasant Phothaprasert and Nuttanee Thaveephol

The first elephant rally was held recently in the Mae Taeng Elephant Park, in Chiang Mai Province, and attracted many Thai and foreign tourists to join the elephant jamboree. The rally was being used to promote tourism and conservation in the area.

The opening ceremony of the world’s first elephant rally, held on October 13 at Mae Taeng Elephant Park in Mae Taeng District of Chiang Mai, was organized by Yupparaj Vittayalai School alumni.

Borvorn Rattanaprasit, the deputy governor of Chiang Mai, presided over the opening ceremony. The revenue from the rally is being given to the Yupparaj College’s alumni association for their centenary celebration and to needy students.

Before arranging the elephant rally, the committee consulted the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Chalermsak Suranun, assuring him that the elephant activities were in no way harmful or cruel to the animals.

Chalermsak Suranan (seated left), director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Office Region 1, gets ready to head out into the wilderness

Somsak Nimmanun, president of Yupparaj College’s alumni association said that the word “elephant rally” meant riding elephants for traveling and exploring the countryside, not to force elephants to run or do any strange activities. “We also sent a letter to explain the rally to the secretary of the Friends of Asian Elephants’ Foundation, Soroda Salvala and the director of the National Elephant Institute, Preecha Puangkham. After they had been informed, they agreed to be consultants for the activities,” Somsak said.

Dozens of elephants participated in the fun rally / fund raiser. Riders explored the countryside looking for and finding rally codes.

The elephant is the symbol of Thailand, Chiang Mai and the Yupparaj College’s Alumni Association.

Because of this year’s success, next year’s elephant rally will be bigger than ever. The winners from this year’s rally received trophies from Prime Minister Taksin Shinawatra.

Charity somtam auction gets 6000 baht for one dish

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The “Somtam Hi-So” bidding contest was held at Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Center in Chiang Mai last weekend with much interest being shown on who would pay the highest price for the somtam cooking and auction event.

Prominent women in Chiang Mai dressed in traditional costumes take part in the “High Society Somtam” cooking and bidding contest held at Kad Suan Kaew shopping complex.

Central Kad Suan Kaew, Chiang Mai and the Lions Club arranged the papaya salad festival with many prominent people joining in the festival to make the Thai dishes; papaya salad (or somtam) and submitting their bids.

Local personalities in traditional costumes pound away with mortar and pestle making their best somtam.

The most expensive dish, costing 6000 baht, belonged to Waewdao Limlenglert, accounting and financial director of Sahapanich Chiangmai Co., Ltd.

Montri Wongkasem, the managing director of Mengrai Packaging Co, paid for the most popular dish but then went out to buy a 20 baht papaya salad at the nearby stall.

Ms Waewdao Limlenglert (left), winner of the most expensive “somtam” dish, presents it to Montri Wongkasem of the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai. The winning somtam sold for 6,000 baht a plate.

Nantana Pajchimsawat, the chairman of the Youth Thai Encyclopedia Sector, International Lions Club said that the income from the bidding would be used to support the 5th youth encyclopedia quiz game which is an annual Lions Club event. “The quiz game is held to promote His Majesty’s encyclopedia project. The Lions Club has been playing an important role to provide money for the youth activities, so we were invited to join this program to help raise some charity funding”, Nantana said.

Winners of Panda Logo Design contest announced

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Since we are waiting for a pair of rare pandas to come from China, the Chiang Mai Zoo, under the Patronage of His Majesty the King, ran a contest to design a suitable logo.

The competition attracted 396 entries with the winner, Ruengwit Pootharaporn creating a logo of two pandas in “kanok” style (flame-like  .

Runners-up Chaiyan Yamsri and Bamrung Israkul received 5,000 baht.

The winning logos will be used in promotions for Panda activities, and will be registered with the patent office.

Chaiyan Yamsri’s logo finished tied for second runner up.

Bamrung Israkul’s logo was the second to finished tied for second runner up.

Ruengwit Pootharaporn’s logo done in the kanok style won first prize in the Panda Logo Design contest.

Crispy glass noodles with Thai herbs wins new menu item award

Metinee Chaikuna Photos by Nuttanee Thaveephol

Crispy Glass Noodles with Thai Herbs, from the Thai Chocolate Cookery Centre, won the new Thai menu item at the recent Local Wisdom Thai Food Fair at Airport Plaza. The food entered had to be a new Thai dish, and had to include Thai herbs. This new dish consisted of crispy fried glass noodles, fried chopped chicken, dried prawn, sliced fresh chillies, sliced fresh ginger and miang kam sauce, a Thai traditional item.

The cooking demonstration at the Thai Chocolate Cookery Centre taught foreign students about Thai food.

The cook who created this new dish is Dhanapume Asoke-trakul, the consultant at the Thai Chocolate Thai Cookery Centre. He said that the idea of this dish was from his favourite food, miang kam, an original northern snack. Dhanapume said that there were so many ingredients in miang kam that it was too complicated for everyday use, so he created the new dish in miang kam style but using glass noodle as the main ingredient. He also wanted to show that glass noodles could be cooked not only by boiling but also by frying. Thai people think of glass noodles as the main ingredient of the noodle soup, yum woon sen, but this new dish shows that glass noodles can be much more than that.

“Crispy Glass Noodles with Thai Herb” won first prize in the Local Wisdom Thai Food Fair.

This new dish, made of chicken and Thai herbs, doesn’t yet have a name.

Dhanapume said that he had never been taught cooking in school, but could cook all kinds of food, Thai and international and even cakes, desserts and snacks of all nations. The reason he liked cooking was that he liked eating.

Malee Impraphai smiles as she shows off her husband’s winning dish at the Thai Chocolate Cookery Centre.

The Local Wisdom Thai Food Contest was organized by the Ministry of Health, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Oil Products Ltd., Thai Ha Ltd., and Sheer Ltd. The contest was for new creations in Thai food and was being organized in every part of Thailand, starting in the North first.

Proud of their honors, Dhanapume Asoke-Trakul, holding the shield on the left, Pratueng ‘Tub-Tim” Imprapai and his darling, Malee are very happy with their winning certificate.

At the Thai Chocolate Cookery Centre, foreigners can learn about Thai food through practicing.

Narumon Sangra, the Local Wisdom Thai Food Contest’s P.R. said that the objective of this competition is to maintain Thai style recipes, using Thai ingredients. The contest is classified in to 3 sections, over-all, restaurant, and hotel. In the Chiang Mai competition there were over 150 applicants, but ended up with 10 finalists reviewed by the judging committee.

The winner for the over-all section was Suntorn Bunmee from a menu adapted from lod shong, Thai sweetmeat made of short noodles and coconut milk, and the winner of the hotel section was the Botanic Residence Resort Hotel with mixed rice and herbs.

The winners received a trophy from the Health Minister, certificates and 10,000 baht awards, and can compete in the national contest to win the Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Trophy and a million baht.

One last party

by Lesley Warner

I was recently invited to a Thai funeral in Kanchantaburi. Unfortunately for me, my friend decided that he wanted to go the evening before, but didn’t decide this until 8 p.m. He talked me into it, as usual, by using family pressure and tradition and his need to be there. I was to rue my gullibility as the night wore on, as the journey was horrendous. Traveling in torrential rain, we didn’t arrive at our destination until 12.30 a.m. I think that I can safely say that I have never seen so much rain falling at any one time in my life, even in England. It was impossible to see where we were going.

Family members gather in front of the coffin for a final picture

As usual in all Thai religious ceremonies , one is expected to donate, but it wasn’t too much this time. We arrived to see many happy people sitting around eating and drinking the inevitable whiskey and beer. There were also people of all shapes, sizes and ages asleep in rows on the floor. At one end of the temple room there was a white coffin decorated with neon flashing lights and flowers, next to it stood a framed photo of the deceased.

Monk for a day

The family thanked me for coming and asked me to go and pay my respects, fortunately, as I had to do it alone, I had some idea of what to do. I took a large incense stick from the pile and someone lit it for me, I then clasped it between my hands as I knelt in front of the coffin and did my wai. I placed the incense stick into the dish of sand with the others and did my three wai’s placing my forehead on the floor three times as I had seen done in the temples. All this took place in front of an audience and as I turned round all eyes were on me. Fortunately they were all smiling so I assumed I had paid my respects correctly as etiquette demanded.

Feeling quite brave and pleased with myself I accepted a glass of Thai whiskey and coke and sat on the floor with everyone. I noticed that grandmama was missing. As she had taken this man in as a child I was surprised, and I asked where she was. My friend said, “Grandmama not come. She very mad. 1.5 million baht insurance money go to wife. Family don’t like her. Grandmama said it should go to family in the village.” I refrained from any comment.

The night turned into a long one as everyone just sat or lay on the floor. By 3 a.m. I was feeling dizzy with tiredness but had no pillow or cover and by this time it was quite chilly. Someone offered me the use of their car so I climbed into the back and did my best to get some sleep. I managed about 2 hours and then everyone was up and about and thinking of food or whiskey.

I tentatively asked if I could take a photo, as I had been pre-assured by my friend that this would be ok, but I wanted to check because it seemed rather impolite at a funeral. Once the camera came out they loved it, they even had a professional photographer there for the day, like we do for a wedding.

As the morning wore on more and more people began to arrive until there were about 150. I had managed to get a cup of coffee but didn’t feel up to eating any part of the very large spread of food, although they offered to prepare something for me. I knew that if I accepted I would be obliged to eat it, and even though they were outside caterers I didn’t want to cause any unnecessary extra work. So I made do with my ‘Jiffy Garage’ chicken pie. Being knowledgeable now at these events I always have one in the car (I didn’t realize how long it would be before I would get any food).

The coffin is carried around the temple three times to assist his journey into the next life

The deceased man was a sort of foster father to my friend so he and 3 other family members were expected to sacrifice all their facial and head hair; this also involved being a monk for the entire ceremony. At 10 a.m. they came to whisk him and the others away to the barbers and I asked if I could go along to take photos. Being used to my unusual requests to be with the males instead of the females they let me go. It didn’t take long and they were all bald, this in itself I could handle, but when the eyebrows came off it was pretty scary. They looked awful. I wondered how my friend’s boss would take it. Needless to say I ended up providing the beer for these ‘would be’ monks while we waited.

Burning gold and silver paper symbolising transfer of money into the next life

When we got back to the temple my friend’s mother was immediately on my case (it is forbidden for Buddhist monks to touch or be touched by women). She cornered me away from him and the next time I saw him he looked like a real monk in his robes. I was not allowed to talk to him and his mother made sure of it for the rest of the day, watching me like a hawk every time I moved. At one point she even came and asked me for cigarettes and a lighter and then made a big show of putting them on the table and backing off so he could pick them up. I am not totally without sense and quite realized that I would be committing a cardinal sin to go near him but this made my day very long. Many of these people hadn’t seen me before so I heard my most hated word ‘Farang’ over and over again and felt like an exhibit in a zoo.

Regardless of age or closeness to the deceased they all seemed to enjoy themselves. My friend had told me previously that people are not sad at a funeral. Death is a time of rejoicing in Southeast Asia because it marks the entrance into the next plane of existence, not the end of existence. Descendants of the deceased continue to pray for their soul for years and the pictures of the deceased are always displayed prominently in homes. So meeting death in a Buddhist culture is a whole lot less traumatic. I often feel that the Thais take life very lightly but this must be why, and probably answers a lot of questions about their general attitude; quite enviable I think.

At 1 p.m. the monks came into the temple; the family and all their friends gave food and candles to the monks. Goodwill is created by these gifts and it is believed that the goodwill helps the lingering spirit of the dead person. When all the monks had arrived, including mine, they chanted while the dead person was being prepared for the funeral pyre. The monks continued to chant in order to help the dead one’s good energies to be released from their fading personality.

An aunt led me into the temple and I found myself on my knees as the monks started chanting. My immediate thought was, “Oh no, not on my knee’s, I need to escape.” I watched several people burning the ornate paper tiers that had been passed around in the temple; this was to help the spirit of the deceased on his way. I saw the professional photographer taking photos so held up my camera and excused myself. I took a few shots and then kept out of the way until the funeral procession later.

Leaving the crematorium after lighting the pyre

Of course no one spoke any English (I wish there was a magic formula to learn Thai) so I just wandered around for about two and a half hours, it seemed interminable.

It was then time for the procession. The monks, including the 4 temporary ones, were joined by string and led the procession, followed by the coffin and the family holding flowers. They walked slowly around the temple 3 times. One monk led the way, throwing pieces of paper with symbols as he went. I never could quite establish why but presumably this was more help for the deceased.

After the third time around the temple they climbed the steps to the ornate crematorium. At this point it was difficult for me to see, but I didn’t feel I could march up there with my camera even though the professional photographer was there. As I craned my neck through the crowds to look, I saw two men opening the coffin, a man with a huge meat cleaver climbed up to bend over the body. I was horrified at this point, I heard the blow and then the cracking of a broken scull and I felt sick rooted to the spot, when suddenly a broken coconut was flung to the ground! I later found out that a coconut was broken over the face of the deceased so that the milk would cleanse his face before meeting his maker. Well, don’t laugh, anything is possible!

The people then began to climb the steps to pay their respects. A steady stream of them continued for about 30 minutes and then the majority left. The coffin was placed inside the crematorium to be burned; I had already been warned that the burning here in Thailand is not quite as we know it. The bones remain after the burning and the family will then rake over the ashes to take a bone in respect to the deceased; this they keep at home. When I suggested to my friend that I couldn’t really go along with this idea, and didn’t want to see or touch any bones and certainly didn’t want any in my home, he seemed amused. He then explained that this was much better than the old days, and only a couple of years back in his village, before they had a burning machine they only used a bonfire. I said, horror struck, “Oh, goodness what happened if it rained like today?” His answer was as always to an idiot. “We have to go back and finish when the rain stops.”

We were very fortunate, although the family were disappointed that they couldn’t continue with the burning until much later in the day as there were too many complaints about the smell from the nearby residents (the modern world touches everywhere).

I waited only long enough for my monk to change his clothes and made a hasty exit for the journey home.

Bytes, Bits & Mega Tips

Install on Demand

Who is doing the demanding here? You or your computer? I have no idea what “Install on Demand” means, so it must be my computer. Damn right it is.

When checking my email recently a dialogue box popped up and told me it is going to download a language plug-in. It gave me a cancel option and that is exactly what I did - cancel the action. I did not want a language plug-in to be installed. I cannot think of a reason why I should want to have a Japanese or any other language plug-in when I don’t have a clue how to read the language anyway. Furthermore, it could be a vulnerable security hole.

Over the last few months I had this dialogue box jump at me just when I tried to delete this same email message, causing me to cancel the download and then try to delete the message again. That just wasted several seconds of my precious time!

Well, here’s how I won back that valuable time:

The most confusing part is that, although I use an email program such as Eudora or Outlook, I had to change the setting in my Internet browser application, which is in my case Internet Explorer 5.5. Oh please, spare me the words “What! You are still using the old version 5.5. I’ve got 6.” I have long given up on keeping pace with always having the latest version.

Ok, where were we? Internet Explorer. When your email program tries to read the message, it detects a bit of code which tells it the language. If a specific language pack is not installed on your computer, it prompts you to download the files as needed.

To switch off this option follow these steps:

Open your Internet Explorer and click on “Internet Options” under the “Tools” menu. Then click on “Advanced”. Under “Browsing” you have several options, including “Install on Demand”. Unclick the check box and click the OK button. Done. You won’t see that dialogue box again.

Q&A: Get your spelling right

Question from Claude G:

When you talk about the software Microsoft Works, what is the right way to write it? MSWorks or MS Works (with space between MS and Works)? A French computer engineer told me that it should read MSWorks, but I am not sure he is right. Could you give me your opinion about this? Thank you.


Did you spell check it in MS Word? Oh, how do you spell that: MSWord or MS Word? MS stands for Microsoft, hence Microsoft Word or Microsoft Works - 2 words. Abbreviating Microsoft to MS would make it MS Word or MS Works.

This way it doesn’t show up in my spellchecker either, whereas MSWorks has a red wiggled underline. If it would be one word, wouldn’t you think Microsoft would’ve added it to their own spellchecker? Well, with Microsoft - don’t answer that question.