New Year in Chiang Mai – quiet but colorful

New Year in Chiang Mai – quiet but colorful

Since Chiang Mai Mail is still new in town, it was our reporting team’s first time reporting on New Years’ Eve in Chiang Mai. We did not know what to expect, and our mind was very open when we took off to hit the town on the evening of December 31, 2002.

At the Amari Rincome, a Thai traditional orchestra brought the 200+ guests into a festive mood.

Elvis lives - not only in our hearts, but also in Chiang Mai, and people stood in line to have their photographs taken with the King of Rock n Roll.

The beautifully decorated pool area and gardens of the Amari Rincome, just before the door opened.

Going balloony at midnight.

Regular customer to the Amari, Thomas Scalp came all the way from Sweden to celebrate his 50th birthday, which coincided with New Year’s Eve. GM Marc Dumur is always on hand to watch over the tables.

It’s joking time at Thapae Gate. The foreign spectators were a bit lost, but thoroughly enjoyed the Thais’ outbursts of laughter when “The Jokers” took to the stage.

Posing at Darling Wine Bar are (from left) Lukas Villinger, Dang, Daisy, Hendrik, and one local beauty.

The first surprise came when we drove through Nimmanahaeminda Street. Normally blocked with traffic, cars, bikes and pedestrians, compounded by the slow stoplights at that crossing, the street now seemed deserted. No cars, no motorbikes, nobody screaming at tuk-tuk drivers… Nothing! Once in a while a bike drove past us but it was amazingly quiet.

We stopped into the Amari Rincome Hotel and there it was - the festive spirit which we had missed on the streets. Beautifully decorated, the pool lit by burning candles on floating flowerbeds, it was a mixture of cultures – short-trousered Korean tourists, in a hurry to find their table and invade the buffet, protected by kitchen staff and waiters with funny hats, and very festive American and European couples eagerly awaiting what the countdown to 2003 would bring.

Preparing 2003 balloons which were to be released at midnight.

A multi-cultural, and very festive get-together - cheers to a new Canadian-American-German-British-Australian friendship.

Fantasia 2002 was the theme of one of the gala events at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, and the mostly foreign guests in the ballroom indeed had a ball, and were treated to a spectacular fireworks show.

It seems as if the management of the Imperial celebrates New Years Eve every single day of the year - they are always dressed up, in a good mood, and ready to party. GM Vorapong, center in blue, pretends to be Chinese.

Molybdomancy - that’s how it’s been done

Shame that there is no “Miss New Year” - contest! We spotted 2 contestants from Canada.

We became caught up in the festive spirit and decided to set off to Stop No. 2 – the Imperial Mae Ping. On the way we encountered what we had expected, but didn’t receive, on Nimmanahaeminda Street. Traffic jam time, busses blocking the road, and no parking space. But it was worth a short walk to the hotel. Imperial Mae Ping was the host of two parties: a most festive one for all tourists staying in the hotel, which included a transvestite show, Thai traditional dancers and employees dressed in fancy costumes. But there was more to come in the almost bursting Imperial Beer Garden, with big screens everywhere, live music and even the GM dressed in a fancy outfit to fit into the crowd. It was a party for Chiang Mai’ans and the Thai customers of the hotel and Chiang Mai, who were definitely in a partying mood.

For us it was time to move on. What was going on at Thapae Gate? We wanted to find out since there had already been a huge stage set up for the last couple of days. What did I say about not finding a place to park the car? Did I say anything about deserted streets? Now we knew why things were like this. They were all stuck around Thapae. Nothing was moving. Traffic was at a standstill and nobody seemed to care. People wanted to celebrate. Young backpackers, university students, Thais, farangs, old and young, in evening gowns and in shorts. Nobody seemed to care.

Who are we? Never mind, we are in a good mood.

Who cares about chairs, as long as there are trees.

Switzerland and the Netherlands renew their friendship in Chiang Mai.

Slเinte mh๒r agad! The man in the kilt explained that this means “Good health to you”. Well, we’ll drink to that!

Where’s the fireworks?

On the road again … or not? The deserted Nimmanhaeminda at around 8:00 p.m.

The old German tradition of molybdomancy was upheld at Joerg’s and Sunisa’s To Nobody Restaurant. Old and young, German and non-German had a great time.

Mummy, mummy, my balloon got muddled.

Chiang Mai City Hall had sponsored jokers, traditional drummers, and internationally known Korean singers. Balloons and firecrackers were already flying before the countdown to 2003 had even begun. But there was enough left as the crowd started to count down the last minute of the old year and started the first minutes of 2003, when over 2000 white balloons and fireworks were let off into the sky to enlighten the area over Thapae Gate and let viewers for miles around see the spectacular sight over the Chiang Mai sky.

The reporters of the Chiang Mai Mail were not disappointed by the events organized around the city for this New Year. We certainly had a great time and are sure that all you readers did as well. Once again, Happy New Year to all, and may all your wishes and hopes for 2003 come true, and exceed your expectations.