HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

German and Thai tie the knot in Thailand’s first balloon wedding

“Disabled does not mean unable”

More than 3 million sunflowers for Chiang Rai

German and Thai tie the knot in Thailand’s first balloon wedding

Did they throw rice and seed in Doi Saket?

Supatatt Dangkrueng and Nuttanee Thaveephol

Peter Copitz and Chatrawadee Sukhajati became Thailand’s first couple to tie the knot in a hot air balloon on January 9 when they wed in the skies above Doi Saket district, Chiang Mai.

Up, up and away... On January 9, Peter Copitz and Chatrawadee Sukhajati tied the knot in a hot air balloon above Doi Saket, thus becoming Thailand’s first couple get married in a hot air balloon. 

The young couple received their marriage certificate from Surapol Panasampol, the district chief of Doi Saket.

Off they go into the beautiful blue sky...

The balloon pilot, Yuttakij Wanichanon asks the couple if they are ready for take off.

It could be said that their burning love provided the impetus for the balloon to get airborne.

The small but elegant wedding ceremony began in the early morning at the Oriental Balloon Flights, Floraville, Doi Saket District. After Peter and Chatrawadee had given alms to monks, they sailed away by hot air balloon whilst recalling their memories of balloon flights in Nepal.

Chatrawadee said that she and her husband had first seen each other in Hawaii 4 years ago and they agreed to marry in a balloon because the bridegroom used a balloon to propose to her in Nepal. They will have another wedding ceremony this Valentine’s Day.

Peter works as a secretary at the Australia Study Abroad Association and Chatrawadee is an air hostess. On the memorable day, Surapol Panasampol, the district chief of Doi Saket joined with them and was witness to the marriage registration.

The young couple is all smiles as the balloon begins to get inflated behind them.

The ceremonies began when the married couple to be gave alms to monks in the early morning hours.

The bride threw her basket of flowers to the people before flying away in the balloon, controlled by Thailand’s only balloon pilot, Yuttakij Wanichanon.

All the passengers were awarded a flight certificate by the pilot as a remembrance of the wedding flight. The Oriental Balloon Flight flies daily in the early morning during the dry season, from October 2002 until the beginning of March.

“Disabled does not mean unable”

Saori-Hirobi Thai Project

Story by Marion Vogt Photos by Metinee Chaikuna and Nuttanee Thaveephol

Monday, January 13 was a big day for the Saori Creative Center, as it was the day they celebrated their grand opening ceremony. The Saori Creative Center is situated 500 m down from Krung Thai Bank near Nong Hoy Market.

Four disabled girls and boys learn to weave “Saori”; a style of Japanese cotton textiles.

Mr. Miyamoto, representative of the JIGA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), gives his opening speech.

“Saori means having fun and being happy together, and is a way to express your feeling in your heart,” says Eiji Jo, the president of Saori Hiroba whose mother, Misao Jo discovered this kind of weaving.

What is Saori? ‘Sa’ comes from ‘Sai’ and means that everything has its own individual dignity. And the ‘ori’ means weaving.

The message from Misao Jo, born in Japan 1913, the founder of Saori hand weaving is a very beautiful saying: “All flowers are beautiful, even though each individual flower is different in form and color. Because of this difference, ‘all are good’, because everything has the same life. A yardstick cannot measure life. It is individuality that makes everything meaningful and the uniqueness of each thread that creates that tapestry of life.”

The plight of people and their families with disabilities is still greatly misunderstood, even though Saori has been introduced in 36 countries around the globe, including the USA, Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and even Saudi Arabia just to name a few. And now Chiang Mai has joined this worthwhile project and has its own Saori Weaving Center.

The Saori method, depicted as “weaving without rules” or restrictions, shares the belief that the potential for expression and creativity lies within each of us. All that is needed to bring that creativity forward is encouragement, opportunity, and recognition.

This girl fluently demonstrates Saori weaving. She is also participating in the sport games for disabled being held January 16-19.

HRH Princess of Chiang Mai, Jao Rawipan Sujaritkul presided over Saori’s grand opening ceremony.

Browsing through the showroom with its colorful hand woven textiles. 

Saori, self-discovery through free weaving, is more than a guide to weaving. It is a tribute to the Saori artists, their families, friends, teachers, and community workers who recognized their talents and encouraged their aspirations along the way.

In Thailand, the artists have been involved in a variety of activities, such as holding workshops and cooperating in projects commercializing and marketing naturally-dyed and hand spun yarn, produced by people in hilltribes, as a part of its social development in highland areas. The world of Saori is a dynamic example of VSA Arts’ goal to move beyond creating one-time experiences by fostering the enduring values of community and sharing in ways that the arts can uniquely provide.

Behind the Saori method is the philosophy that, “Disabled does not mean unable”. This is just to give somebody a chance to express him or herself genuinely through art and to present this opportunity in a unique way.

Good luck to the center, and if anyone is interested in obtaining more information or maybe in contributing, please call the Saori Creative Center at 053-271-641.

More than 3 million sunflowers for Chiang Rai

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Rai is preparing to grow more than 3 million sunflowers in May 2003 aiming at making Chiang Rai “the beautiful flower city”.

Narin Panichkij, Chiang Rai governor said that Chiang Rai has a policy to promote tourism by planting Mexican sunflowers to create the beautiful flower city concept. The plan lets all sectors, government and private, share in tourism promotion and development.

Chiang Rai Agriculture and Technology College, Chiang Rai Plantation Research Center, Chiang Rai Agricultural Career Promotion and Development Center, Central Prison of Chiang Rai, and Provincial Land Development are all involved in the Mexican sunflower plantation.

It is expected that the first lot of 3 million Mexican sunflower plants will be grown at Doi Hua Mae Kham. The people in the area and Tambon Mae Salong Administration Office will also participate in the planting and nurture of the flower gardens.

The most famous northern Mexican sunflower field is in Doi Mae U-kor, Mae Hong Son, which attracts many tourists in the winter every year, so consequently Chiang Rai has planned to have its own sunflower field to grow some tourism interest for itself too.