HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thank You Chiang Mai in the name of the kids!

Chiang Mai Choral Society presents a Christmas show

Adobe clay house technology returns

Bubbling beauties for the festive season

Thank You Chiang Mai in the name of the kids!

Last Saturday was one of the happiest days in the lives of 48 children in the care of the “Rejoice Children Project” in Chiang Mai.

The kids really enjoyed the clown and his fantastic tricks the clown could do with balloons.

It’s playtime - balloons, paint, teddy bears, and a lot of other toys were given to the 48 thankful kids.

Of course, there was plenty of kids’ favorite food and drinks.

There were personalized presents for all the children, and much more.

The Rejoice Urban Development Project, in short ‘RUDP’, is a multi faceted grassroots project based in the Chiang Mai Province near the foot of the famous Doi Suthep Mountain and temple. RUDP’s goal is to provide a desperately needed medical and social support system to the population of very poor, sick and underprivileged people living in Chiang Mai’s villages, urban slum communities, and the surrounding hill areas throughout Chiang Mai.

In particular, RUDP’s programming addresses the diverse array of medical and social needs demonstrated by the people infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The overrun national medical system is unable to respond to the medical needs of AIDS-affected populations. In addition, the social stigma strongly discourages HIV-positive individuals from seeking the social support they need.

At present there are approximately 70,000 people in Chiang Mai who suffer with HIV/AIDS and its related illnesses. An additional 400,000 people suffer from this disease in the areas surrounding Chiang Mai. It is estimated that throughout Chiang Mai Province, a total of approximately 4,000 people are in the terminal stages of AIDS.

The driving forces behind the scenes - Dot (right) & Dot (left).

There was a great turnout at this year’s party, an occasion which was as joyful as it was saddening.

There’s nothing nicer to watch than children’s eyes.

“Show me what you’ve got!”

RUDP is dedicated to providing free, community-based home care services to these people; to whatever degree their resources permit. They offer full medical treatment in the patients’ own homes, and they also provide both patients and family members with basic medical training to enable them to care for themselves on an ongoing basis. Not only does this training provide medical information to the home-based caregivers, but it also takes an important step toward reducing the stigma and isolation of people with AIDS from their families and communities.

Both the Home Care Project’s director, Derek Hallam, and the project’s assistant director, Gareth Lavell, are trained medical nurses from the United Kingdom and are responsible for all provision of medical care to individual patients. A small, highly dedicated team of Thai AIDS caregivers and social workers assist them. These caregivers have received basic medical training from Derek and Gareth, and assist them in all possible aspects.

It is important to remember that AIDS is a disease that affects families. In most households, it is not just one family member who is infected with, and eventually dies from, AIDS. Indeed, it is often several family members who are simultaneously suffering from AIDS-related illnesses.

At present the project cares for approximately 500 HIV/AIDS patients, both adults and young children, whom they must visit on a daily/weekly basis, in the slum communities and local villages throughout Chiang Mai Province. In addition to serving patients in their own homes, they have fourteen HIV/AIDS outreach clinics located in Buddhist temples and Christian church halls. They also assist two local government clinics.

Then there was the unexpected bouquet of flowers for Dot, presented by one of the boys on behalf of all the kids and the “Rejoice Center”.

Finally - the big red man with the presents has arrived.

A weekly open air clinic is held at the Christian Children’s Fund (CCF), Chom Thong office. They hold other outdoor clinics in patients’ gardens, where many gather. These clinics are not like clinics in Western countries. The clinics mentioned are not fixed buildings. They normally consist of a small table and chair, and a space, either open air or held in very basic sheltered areas. This is where RUDP is able to offer it’s free medical services to the very needy, on a daily basis. This care requires an individual patient cost of approximately 250 Thai baht per week per person, or 1,000 baht per month (approximately 23 US dollars per month) to cover basic medicines and other care. They hope to increase their income in order to expand their services through this program to at least 1000 patients.

Chiang Mai Mail heard about this project from some very kind hearted Chiang Mai residents who want to make a difference, and stepped in to help. With the help of volunteers and with the help of our readers, they received more than 100 presents for children and donations which were used to buy medication and handed over to Rejoice.

They are always in need of medications of all kinds, including sterile dressing packs, surgical alcohol, surgical latex gloves, surgical tape, and anti viral medications. Skin care treatments, anti fungal creams/medications, oral candida treatments, adult/baby size pampers, dextrose and sodium chloride injection 1000 ml, in fact any in date medications, and or medical equipment including back of the cupboard items, so long as they are still in good condition, and still in date. They also need donations of used clothing in good clean condition, blankets, sheets, towels, facecloths, canned formula baby milk, toiletries, rice/food items. They are always ready and willing to accept any donations that you may have to offer.

These kinds of things were bought for the center on the day of the party, and many made monetary donations. But for all the children, it was a day of joy, a day of forgetting that they suffer or might not live long enough to see Santa next year again. They went home with loads of presents, carefully wrapped and handed to them according to their sex and age.

Many women of the community brought cookies and cakes and helped with drink supplies, or just came to play with the children. Even tourists who just happened to read about the children’s party in the newspaper came along with footballs and badminton sets and took the initiative to teach some of the older ones to play.

A Magic Show was donated and clowns were busy blowing balloons for everyone who wanted them. For 48 children in the care of the Rejoice Urban Project it was a Christmas to remember. Nobody knows how long they will be able to remember. But for everybody who wants to help: Don’t wait for a miracle... Be open to the possibility of doing a great deal of good today, because tomorrow might just be too late! It’s Christmas after all.

You can contact Gareth Lavell at: [email protected]

Chiang Mai Choral Society presents a Christmas show

The Chiang Mai Choral Society presented the first Christmas, a pageant-style, nondenominational program that celebrated the biblical Christmas story. The pageant took place on the night of December 7 at the Chiang Mai University Art Museum.

A ceremony was held to mark the opening of the event.

The grounds of the Chiang Mai University Art Museum were filled with an appreciative audience.

Food was served during the evening in a Bethlehem village setting.

Adobe clay house technology returns

CMU gets clay house craft museum

Metinee Chaikuna

The Sri-than House Conservation Group, led by Jon Jundai, has been holding a workshop inside Chiang Mai University Art Museum to spread knowledge on building adobe clay houses. At present, there are about 20 people participating in the program, building a clay house near the Chiang Mai University Art Museum.

The Sri-than House Conservation Group, led by Jon Jundai, has been holding a workshop inside Chiang Mai University Art Museum to spread knowledge on building adobe clay houses.

The clay house will become a gallery-like craft museum, and will be officially opened in January.

The Sri-than House Conservation Group is a non-government organization under the auspices of the Satien Koset Nakapratheep Foundation, which aims to develop local knowledge, encourage people to be self-dependent, and to support local resources.

The idea of building clay houses came from Jon Jundai, a farmer. He has built 5 clay houses in the past 3 years without any prior experience. In March, he organized an international workshop to teach clay house production, and has built a monk’s residence in Satien Thammastan, Bangkok, and a clay library for the Sawang Sutharam Temple in Khon Kaen.

Inside it is nice and cool, even though outside it is hot.

Sri-than House Conservation Group adds some cosmetic touches to the outside of the group’s clay house project.

Jon Jundai said that he became interested in clay houses when he was in America. “Five years ago, I rode a bicycle in the New Mexico desert to a village, Taos Pueblo, which is a Red Indian Pueblo tribe reserve. It was so hot, and no trees at all. But after you step in to their clay houses, it was cool. I became interested in this kind of house so I researched information about adobe houses in many libraries. I thought I could adapt it for Thailand so I tried building the first house in Yasothorn, my birth place,” he said. “In Thailand, people like to build houses from wood, but this commodity is becoming scarce in our country. The clay house is another alternative for us, to build it ourselves inexpensively, and we can find the natural base product all around us,” he said.

Phairin, a staff member of the group, said that there are clay houses located in many parts of Thailand, remaining from the past. They have found many in the north eastern region of Thailand, and some scattered in the north and the south. “In Bangkok, we found that there was a building behind the Satreewith School also made of clay,” she said. She also revealed that the clay houses in Thailand were originally from Chinese and Vietnamese origin, as these people used to build clay houses rather than wooden ones.

It has been shown that clay houses can be found in every part of the world, because of its ability to withstand extremes of heat and cold. Recently there has been a resurgence in this type of construction in Devon in the UK, where they are called “Cob” houses. Thailand can add itself to the list of countries renewing interest in an older technology.

Bubbling beauties for the festive season

By Ranjith Chandrasiri

As simple as that sounds, sparkling wine is anything but uncomplicated. From the cheapest, artificially carbonated “bicycle pump” fizzies, through to the super-expensive, luxury cuv้es from Champagne, sparkling wines bubble in a myriad of styles throughout the world. These come in various shades of white, pink and red, in both vintage and non-vintage versions, any of which can be made from either single varietals or multi-grape blends. A universe unto themselves, sparkling wines must be approached and understood on their own terms.

The Veuve Clicquot’s cellar master expertly pours a bubbling beauty during the champagne and food pairing.

So what makes a good sparkling wine? It comes down to the bubbles, the wine and how they interact. Basically, the smaller, tighter and more persistent the bead or bubble size, the better the wine. Quality is defined by how all this fizziness, called mousse in French, collectively feels in the mouth. A wine that creates this feeling can be described as having “finesse”.

Over time, sparkling wines have amassed a broad range of aromatic and flavor descriptors: citrus fruit, pineapple, apple, peach, fig, strawberry, raspberry, nutty (hazelnuts, almonds), toast, yeast, mushroom, soy, butter, cream, honey, baked pie crust, biscuit, caramel, malt and cocoa.

For most of the last century, all sparkling wines were called “champagne” regardless of their provenance. Eventually, the inaccuracy and unfairness of using this term were recognized and now, only wine from the French region of Champagne has the right to use that name. Subsequently, other terms were adopted to describe similarly styled wine. The finest of these are now labeled M้thode Traditionnelle, Cava (of Spain) or “Fermented in this Bottle”.

Champagne maker Cyril Brun (left) provides Ranjith with a taste during the Veuve Clicquot champagne tasting in their laboratory in France.

Champagne styles

Champagne provides the model for the vast majority of the world’s sparkling wine styles. Two red grapes, pinot noir and pinot meunier, and one white, chardonnay, provide the complementary raw material blended into the non-vintage styles associated with each major Champagne house. White wine from the pinot noir grape is fuller bodied, providing structure and depth of fruit, in contrast to the richness, fruitiness, breadth and softness imparted by pinot meunier. Chardonnay adds a delicate fruitiness, austerity, elegance, and ages well. Not unlike multi-grape Bordeaux blends, the predominant variety in the blend strongly determines house style.

All Champagnes are made in a range of styles, from extremely dry to ultra-sweet: extra brut (less than 6g of residual sugar), brut (less than 15g), extra dry (12-20g), sec (17-35g), demi-sec (33-50g), rich or doux (more than 50g).

Non-Champagne styles

Other European regions also produce m้thode traditionnelle sparkling wines. In France, such wines are referred to as cr้mant followed by the region’s name. France’s Alsace makes these from pinot noir, pinot gris and pinot blanc, together with the related auxerrois, riesling and chardonnay that have been planted in Alsace. All grape varieties grown in Burgundy are allowed into cr้mant, although gamay may not constitute more than one-fifth of the blend. In the Loire Valley, cr้mant has the native, lemony, waxy chenin blanc as its most dominant component, but it is forbidden for sauvignon blanc to be included in the blend. The Spanish call their m้thode traditionnelle sparkling wines cava and use completely different grapes: xarel-lo for weight, parellada for creamy base notes and macabeo (pronounced mass-say-bow) for acidity and freshness. Italians employ spicy, grapey moscato bianco for their spumante and the Germans mostly draw on riesling for their crisp, clean sparkling sekt.

Elsewhere in the world, sparkling wines are made from all manner of local grapes. The finest examples are generally grown in cool climates that equate to those of Champagne’s and mostly rely on the same grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir and, to a lesser degree, pinot meunier. Not unsurprisingly, California’s Anderson Valley and Russian River, New Zealand’s South Island, and Australia’s Tasmania and Yarra Valley all fit this bill and are among the regions most likely to approach Champagne quality.

But the vast majority of the world’s inexpensive, volume-oriented sparkling wine comes from relatively warmer climates within Australia, Argentina and California. The best of these will also draw on chardonnay and pinot noir, but high-acid chenin blanc and semillon are commonly used as well. Quirky m้thodes traditionelles have also been produced from merlot, gewrztraminer, sauvignon blanc and other varietals.

While Italians have long produced a slightly fizzy red from the lambrusco grape, Australia’s sparkling red is one of the most unusual wine styles to capture the imagination. Although the vast majority of Australia’s sparkling reds are made from shiraz, intriguing alternatives are made from malbec, merlot or durif.

Food for sparkling wine

Many claim that Champagne goes with everything, including chocolate and asparagus, which are deadly to all other wines. This claim may be somewhat shaded psychologically by the nature of celebratory occasions and the unlikelihood that anyone would turn down the offer of a glass of champers.

Certainly, the Champenois take utilitarianism to an extreme, serving sparkling wines with every course. Following their progression, blanc de blancs are served with starters, non-vintage with fish, vintages with meat, ros้s with local cheeses (brie, Chaource, cendr้) and doux with dessert.

Traditional pairings often find chardonnay-dominant wines with oysters, caviar, lobster, shellfish, smoked salmon, sashimi/sushi and Thai cuisine. Fuller pinot styles go well with poached or grilled salmon, foie gras, charcuterie, rabbit, hare, boar and ham.

When you think of sparkling reds, think red lager. Australia’s rich, frothy, berry-sweet mouthwash will happily chase away a furious curry or chili con carne. These wines have a flair with Asian food flavored by hoisin or black bean sauce, and naturally pair with duck, turkey, pโt้ and goat’s cheese.

Top sparkling wines

Top Champagne houses






Pol Roger


Mo๋t & Chandon



Louis Roederer

Veuve Clicquot

Well-priced Champagne houses



Sparkling red

Rockford of Australia

Hardys of Australia

Top sparkling producers of the world

Argyle (Oregon)

Hardys (Australia)

Domaine Chandon (Australia and California)

Iron Horse Vineyards (California)

Pongrแcz (South Africa)

Cloudy Bay Pelorus (New Zealand)

Ranjith Chandrasiri is the resident manager of Royal Cliff Grand and the founder the of the Royal Cliff Wine Club, Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Pattaya, Thailand. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]