HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thousands turn up for San Kamphaeng’s event of the year

HM Queen Sirikit bestows Royal Patronage on Wiang Kum Kam

Opening Ceremony for this year’s Inthanon Games in Chiang Mai enjoyed by all

Time flies - Chiangmai Mail already three months old

Edelweiss Princess - the Mae Ping cruiser

Thousands turn up for San Kamphaeng’s event of the year

20th San Kamphaeng Bor Sang Umbrella Festival and Handicrafts Fair a big hit

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Beautiful women of the North compete in the unique Miss Umbrella Beauty Contest when women ride bicycles whilst displaying their open umbrellas, and may the best woman win!

The three day Umbrella Festival at Ban Bor Sang, San Kamphaeng district attracted a huge number of visitors this year. Boworn Rattanaprasit, the Chiang Mai deputy governor presided over the opening, with people crowded along both sides of the road to witness the event.

This festival is held by the Tourism Authority of Thailand Northern Office Region 1 in cooperation with the Chiang Mai Provincial Office, San Kamphaeng District, Tambon Ton Pao Administrative Office, and other private organizations.

The Land of smiles and pretty women; San Kamphaeng District.

This future Miss Umbrella beauty contestant prepares herself and dreams of her day in the spotlight.

Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Boworn Rattanaprasit presided over the opening ceremony and cut the ribbon to officially get the show on the road.

Chiang Mai grandmothers, some perhaps even Miss Umbrella winners of the past, join the parade.

The main attraction to the festival, other than the Miss Umbrella contest of course, are these colorful umbrellas, fans and local handicrafts.

The most unique event of the festival is the Miss Umbrella Beauty Contest in which the competitors have to ride bicycles with an open umbrella, displaying their beauty at the same time as showing their umbrellas. It is considered one of the highlights of the fair, which also includes the cultural parade, local displays and instrumental shows.

This festival is aimed at preserving the Bor Sang umbrellas and Lanna arts culture as part of the cultural heritage of Chiang Mai. Ban Bor Sang is famous for its umbrellas, fans, and handicrafts in the Tambon Ton Pao, San Kamphaeng District in Chiang Mai. The umbrella fair has been held annually for the past 20 years.


HM Queen Sirikit bestows Royal Patronage on Wiang Kum Kam

Light and sound show to promote Wiang Kum Kam the underground empire

Story by Phitsanu Thepthong Photos by Phitsanu Thepthong and Supatatt Dangkrueng

Her Majesty the Queen graciously visited the ancient town Wiang Kum Kam to view the light and sound drama presentation titled Muang Kaew Kwan Klao Wiang Kum Kam. Accompanied by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook, and other high ranking officials, Her Majesty the Queen granted audience for the drama performance at Wat E-kang, Saraphi District, Chiang Mai and received flower garlands from Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra, and Samoekae Khetphasook, the governor’s wife.

The atmosphere of light and sound presentation at the ancient town of Wiang Kum Kam, the underground empire.

Sarunyoo Wongkrachang performs as King Mengrai.

Saraphi Pittayakhom School students perform an enchanting candle dance.

The light and sound show also marked the official opening of the Wiang Kum Kam Underground Empire project which will run every Sunday over a 10 week period February 2 - April 6 this year.

Wiang Kum Kam, the first capital of the Lanna Kingdom, was founded by King Mengrai after his victory over the Hariphunchai Kingdom; however, the topography of Wiang Kum Kam, being in a low level region and below the floodplain, led to the founding of Chiang Mai as the new capital.

Performers and actors are mostly movie and TV stars, people of Saraphi district, Saraphi Pittayakhom School students, actors from the Drama and arts institute of Kad Suan Kaew and monks from Saraphi district temples.

Sarunyoo Wongkrachang performs as King Mengrai (wearing hat) and Kanchai Kamnerdploy as Ai Fa (right).

Actors, led by King Mengrai performed by actor Sarunyoo, heighten the drama in this mock fight against each other.

The king enters the arena.

The parade of the troops.

Nevertheless, Wiang Kum Kam remained an important satellite of Chiang Mai for the rest of Mengrai Dynasty.

Wiang Kum Kam suffered a catastrophic flood during the Burmese rule in Lanna 1558 - 1774, which completely destroyed the city, with the new course of the river leaving it buried under alluvial soil, and later forgotten by history. It was re-discovered by the 4th fine arts unit of the department of Fine Arts, and the lost city was resurrected. After this, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, provincial authority, and the people of Saraphi District jointly initiated the Wiang Kum Kam underground empire project to promote it as a new historical tourism destination.

The show’s synopsis began with the minstrel evoking the legend of Wiang Kum Kam, on the bank of the ancient Ping River. The history of the times was shown, with reference to the conquering of Hariphunchai by Phaya Mengrai who then proclaimed himself the king of all the Ping River Valley, and chose Wiang Kum Kam as his capital. Kan Thom was appointed the city’s master architect, and it became a bustling trade center.

Persistent flooding forced Phaya Mengrai to move his capital to Chiang Mai, yet Phaya Mengrai kept returning to Wiang Kum Kam. On one visit, he was saddened by the news of a quarrel between his two sons, Prince Khram and Prince Khruea. He was about to wreak vengeance upon them, but the princes’ penalties were averted by the arrival of monks from Ceylon, bringing with them shoots from the Buddha’s Bo tree. Ecstatic Phaya Mengrai declared his support of Buddhism and then promoted Buddhism as his kingdom’s religion.

The Bo tree was planted before Phaya Mengrai left for Chiang Mai, but 300 years later, Wiang Kum Kam was hit by a disastrous flood.

Opening Ceremony for this year’s Inthanon Games in Chiang Mai enjoyed by all

Metinee Chaikuna

The Inthanon Games (23rd National Disability Games) were officially opened on January 16 at the 700 Year Anniversary Sport Complex. This was the first time the games have been organized in Chiang Mai, and judging by the number of people at the opening ceremony, they could certainly be deemed successful.

Minister of Tourism and Sports Sonthaya Khunpluem presided over the opening ceremony and took time to chat with and take a photograph with the participating athletes.

Elegant and attractive, Thai folk dance always impresses everyone there.

There were 4 shows in the opening ceremony produced by 400 people from the Disabilities Sports Club, Anusarn Suthorn Deaf School, Kawila Anukul School, Yard Fon Disabled Career Support Center, Payap University, Mae Jo University, Chiang Mai Dramatic Arts College, Dara Academy, and the 33rd Military Circle of the Royal Thai Army.

Sonthaya Khunpluem, the Minister of Sports and Tourism presided over the opening ceremony, which he also did in sign language, and after the performances he went around chatting to each disabled athlete.

This former athlete wanted to make sure he got everything on film as a memento of this great event.

Nearly 4,000 disabled athletes from 81 institutes joined this year’s Disabilities Games.

The beautiful show performed by disabled athletes and those with no disabilities graphically showed their equality.

At the Inthanon Games (23rd National Disability Games), the torch was lit the same way it was lit at the recent National Games.

The 23rd Disabilities Games featured 10 types of sports, including wheelchair fencing, boxing, wheelchair basketball, athletics, football, goal ball, petong, weight lifting, sepak takraw and volleyball. Around 4,000 disabled sportsmen and women from 81 units participated. The games slogan was “equality creates relationships.”

Time flies - Chiangmai Mail already three months old

Chiangmai Mail board of directors tours the Pattaya Mail production facilities

Chiangmai Mail’s chairman of the board, Norachai Prasertmanukitch, together with MD Michael Vogt and his wife Marion, executive manager marketing & communications, received a very warm welcome (and a bouquet of flowers) when they arrived at Pattaya Mail’s Offices, and were greeted by Pattaya Mail’s MD Peter Malhotra and his assistant, Primprao Somsri. The Chiangmaians enjoyed an impressive tour through the various offices, which included the classifieds section, the editorial section, accounting offices, and the graphics department. All were treated to a coffee at Peter Malhotra’s frantic office afterwards. If anyone considers a private office a ‘peaceful retreat’, Peter can prove them wrong.

The Chiangmai Mail team received a warm welcome at the Pattaya Mail offices. (L to R) Executive Editor Dr Iain Corness, Chairman of the Board Norachai Prasertmanukitch, Managing Director Michael Vogt, Executive Manager Marketing & Communications Marion Vogt, Pattaya Mail’s Managing Director/Chiangmai Mail General Manager Peter Malhotra and his Executive Assistant Primprao Somsri.

Lunch was prepared at the new Diana Garden Resort & Driving Range, after which the group visited the printing presses where the Chiangmai Mail, Pattaya Mail and Pattaya Blatt are turned from words and ideas into actual newspapers. Everyone there understood why it is called “hot off the press”, because the various processes needed before one can actually hold the paper in one’s hand are definitely hot.

During the afternoon, the first Chiangmai Mail executive board meeting was held at the Dusit Resort Pattaya, and RM Ingo Räuber once again made sure that even a business meeting can be enjoyable and pleasant, as snacks, cookies, and many additional bits and pieces were perfectly prepared and laid out.

Ah, so this is how it’s done… (Standing left to right) Peter Malhotra, Dr Iain Corness, Michael Vogt, Norachai Prasertmanukitch and Marion Vogt at the printing press.

(L to R) Graphics Department Supervisor Andy Gombäz explains some of the finer points of design to Norachai Prasertmanukitch, Marion Vogt and Dr Iain Corness.

It has been a good, eventful first three months … (L to R) Executive Assistant Primprao Somsri, General Manager Peter Malhotra, Executive Editor Dr Iain Corness, Executive Manager Marketing & Communications Marion Vogt, and Chairman of the Board Norachai Prasertmanukitch.

Discussing the serious business of Chiangmai Mail’s future (L to R) Managing Director Michael Vogt, President and Editor in Chief Daniel Dorothy, and CEO Xanxai Visitkul.

(L to R) Norachai Prasertmanukitch, Peter Malhotra, Dr Iain Corness and Primprao Somsri discuss editing conundrums with Pattaya Mail editor Veerachai Somchart and Chiangmai Mail Classifieds Editor Brendan Richards (background right).

The Chiangmai Mail board of directors gets set to sit down and discuss the future, but first a photo opportunity whilst looking over a proof of next week’s Chiangmai Mail front, back and center pages. (L to R) Executive Assistant Primprao Somsri, Executive Editor Dr Iain Corness, Executive Manager Marketing & Communications Marion Vogt, Chairman of the Board Norachai Prasertmanukitch, Managing Director Michael Vogt, CEO Xanxai Visitkul, General Manager Peter Malhotra and President and Editor in Chief Daniel Dorothy.

Chiangmai Mail has now been on the newsstands for 3 months, and regular operational issues had to be reviewed. The future looks bright, as it already looks as if the newspaper will expand further. Exciting times are ahead for the Chiangmai Mail and its readers.

The long afternoon ended at Jomtien Boathouse, were everyone could unwind. The team enjoyed great dinner and greater drinks tapping their feet to the jazzy tunes of Doc Houlind.

Edelweiss Princess - the Mae Ping cruiser

The largest river cruise vessel in northern Thailand is the Edelweiss Princess, which sails along the Mae Ping Lake heading up north closer to the districts of Li in Lamphun Province.

Edelweiss Princess ... the princess of the Mae Ping Lake.

The 250 seat dining room ready to serve meals, snacks and beverages.

The program starts at 6 a.m. Saturdays at the Edelweiss office, taking the coach to the Bhumibol Dam. The journey takes around three and a half hours to the dam where the passengers board the Edelweiss Princess.

On board, passengers will be served their first meal and then have some free time for leisure activities, such as discotheque, karaoke, home theatre, swimming, fishing, canoeing, or games. Or just sit back and enjoy the beautiful sights of the Mae Ping Lake.

The boat cruises until sunset when the evening’s activities get into full swing. These the ‘buffet party’ and ‘sunset cocktail party’ with ‘folk light music’ and ‘cabaret show’ before the passengers retire to their air-conditioned cabins, complete with en-suite.

The beautiful vista from the open deck of Edelweiss Princess.

Before leaving the cruise, passengers take photographs to remember this wonderful experience.

Phra Bhat Khao Nam Temple on the isle of Mae Ping Lake.

In the early morning, the waiters and waitresses serve Khanom Krok (a kind of Thai sweetmeat) with a hot drink at the open deck so that passengers can appreciate the beautiful vista of the fog rising above the surface of the water and then watch the sunrise itself.

One of the activities in the morning is to pay homage at Phra Bhat Khao Nam Temple to the image of Buddha and Guan-Im (the Chinese deity) and one can try one’s luck on Siam Si (the Chinese style of fortune telling). This temple is located on the top of the isle in Mae Ping Lake, and souvenirs from local people are available.

After re-boarding the Edelweiss Princess, it returns to Bhumibol Dam and after lunch passengers return to the office.

Niphon Nunphakdee, the owner of Edelweiss Princess, recommends that passengers should bring a change of clothes, a pair of slippers, swimsuit, shorts, camera, sunglass, and fishing kit. The cruise boat can also be used for seminars, weddings or special events. For further information contact Edelweiss Princess, Chiang Mai branch, telephone 0 5387 2445 and fax 0 5387 2446