Vol. II No. 3 Saturday 18 January - 24 January 2003
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Four Ways Friendship across the Mekong River celebrated with grand festival

Four Ways Friendship across the Mekong River celebrated with grand festival

by Phitsanu Thepthong
Photos by
Phitsanu Thepthong and Nuttanee Thaveephol

The four countries located along the Mekong River Basin celebrated with a spectacular joint festival held in Chiang Rai. Representatives from China, Laos, Burma and Thailand got together in the border province of Chiang Rai, as the 9th Friendship Festival for cultural relations was held over three days from Jan 10-12 at the Mae Fah Luang bridge.

Beautiful women dressed in national costumes representing the four countries along the Mekong River, from left: Burma, China, Laos and Thailand.

Minister Sonthaya Khunpluem lights the taper, marking the opening ceremony of the festival.

Burmese troupe in their national dresses.

This event proved to be most successful, drawing thousands of local visitors and foreign tourists to the festival which was organized by the Chiang Rai Provincial Authorities, Municipality, Chiang Rai Administration Organization, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The festival highlighted impressive performances of arts and cultures representing the four countries, as well as showcasing local products, food and wine tasting, orchid contests, deciduous fruits contests, flower and landscaping arrangements, a tea drinking festival, the demonstration of precious stones, jewelry display and gem cutting by skilled craftsmen, with some sacred and miraculous small Buddha images on show together with local products from the four countries.

Wanchai Chongsuthanamanee, the mayor of Chiang Rai, as the chairman of working group for the festival said it would make for closer ties among the four nations to improve business, economy, politics and promote tourism. They could exchange their arts and cultural relations and foster friendship which it is hoped will produce closer ties between them all.

Chinese delegates in a cultural performance troupe and other guests enjoy the opening ceremony.

VIPs at the Khantoke dinner include Minister Sonthaya Khunpluem, (3rd left), Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panitchakit, (4th left), Mayor Wanchai Chongsuthanamanee and other guests.

A grand and spectacular parade on the theme “Amazing river currents, with four country relations.”

VIPs and guests participate in the Khantoke dinner and night entertainment.

One of the Burmese troupes in their traditional costumes.

Thai dancers give a cultural performance.

The Thai smile shines through during this umbrella performance.

Burmese dancers gave a cultural performance to remember.

He said this year’s festival was bigger than ever, and showed the diversity of cultures, traditions, dance performances and foods from the four countries, and the costumes of the four nations were on sale and display for visitors.

On the opening day, the event began with the spectacular Khantoke northern dinner following a grand parade of local identities, after which guests and visitors could taste the Lanna dining in true Lanna style.

Chinese dancers wowed the crowd with their cultural performance.

A dancing troupe from Laos.

The Thai dance troupe gave a fabulous cultural performance.

Chiang Rai governor, Dr Narin Panichkit gives a welcome speech to Minister Sonthaya.

Beautiful young ladies in Chinese dress graced the opening ceremony.

The Chinese performance troupe from southern China.

The Burmese troupe performs a brilliant dance show.

That evening ceremony was televised and was graciously presided over by the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Sonthaya Khunpluem, who gave an inspirational opening speech. One highlight of the opening ceremony was a parade of elephants led by Minister Sonthaya, VIPs, and the representatives from China, Laos, Burma, and Thailand. This was followed by an amazing performance by 250 students from five educational institutes in Chiang Rai, titled “Amazing river currents, with four country relations.”

Also in attendance was the Chiang Rai governor, Dr Narin Panichkit, Mayor Wanchai, and other guests of honor to witness the cultural exchanges between the four countries. It was well organized and the 500 man working committee is to be congratulated on a job well done.



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