Krathong contest held in Sukhothai
Phrae, Chiang Rai and Lampang show the way
A krathong competition was recently held between 15
provinces in the North, which included Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae
Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Phrae, Nan, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Sukhothai,
Uttaradit, Tak, Pichit, and Kamphaeng Phet. The contest was divided into 2
classifications - the most beautiful krathong and the most creative krathong.
The winner of the most beautiful krathong category came
from Phrae, with the first runner up being the Chiang Rai krathong. The
winning entry in the most creative category came from Lampang, while the
first-runner-up was from Phitsanulok.
Tanyapa Nikrothanond, director of the Tourism Authority
of Thailand Northern Office Region 2 said that his office organized Chiang
Rai’s entry, in cooperation with Dumrongraj Songkroh School.
Thongpond Sardorn, Chiang Rai provincial education
officer added that the Chiang Rai portion of the krathong parade consisted
of sabud chai drums, northern sword dances, shows from various Thai races,
Lanna lanterns and hill tribe dances.
The Krathong made in the shape of a white lotus was made
of sa paper, and was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat and Konok Witsawakul,
famous artists from Chiang Rai.
Tourism in Doi Mae Salong down
Various theories being put forward, but no answer obvious
Doi Mae Salong, a famous mountain resort in Chiang Rai is
devoid of tourists this year. The downturn has been evident since October,
and the number of tourists is very obviously down.
town is usually bustling with tourist activity at this time of year, but
there are no tourists in Mae Salong Nok Village today.
Doi Mae Salong, Ban Mae Salong Nok Village, Mae Fah Luang
Sub-district, Chiang Rai has been in the doldrums since the beginning of the
winter season, and this had been continuing through the beginning of the
year. Shop owners, hotels, and all the business people in the Mae Salong Nok
Village have been complaining about the dearth of tourism and its effect on
Some people have put forward that the reason is because
the weather this winter has not been very cold, like every other year. In
the New Year, it was also raining.
Chinnakup Sae Tern, a staff member at the Mae Salong
Central Hills Hotel said that normally the occupancy rate was nearly 100% in
the winter season, and the tea shops around there had been trading well, but
this year the tourist numbers were less. “We feel that this is an unusual
event since the beginning of October because in the past a large number of
tourists, both Thai and foreign visitors, would be here. But this year,
there are only few of them. Our hotel had been full all the winter season
last year and (tourists) needed to book in advance, but this year there are
only a few guests here,” he said.
Sae Tern, a staff member at the Mae Salong Central Hills Hotel, serves hot
tea to tourists, but the hotel is silent.
Chinnakup also confirmed that this year the weather was
not cold at all, and sometimes it was raining. The Cherry Blossom festival,
which just finished, was also poorly attended because the Sakura was not in
Doi Mae Salong was once well known for the former residences of the
Kuomintang Chinese 93rd military division that was located in this mountain
in Mae Fah Luang, Chiang Rai. In the mountain, there is a large village,
which developed from a hill tribe village. Most of people in the village
speak Thai and Chinese, and plant tea as the main industry. The U-Long tea,
which is considered as one of the best teas, has been available here. Every
year, there are many tourists from all over the world who come to taste the
tea; the village became a key tourism site and the village received much
revenue from that.
National Elephant Institute reveals plans for 2003
Home stays and mahout training proposed
Nipakorn Singhaputthangkoon, general administrator of the
National Elephant Institute in Hang Chat District Lampang Province, said
that the number of tourists has been steadily increasing over the past two
years. During the New Year break the numbers escalated to more than 4,000
tourists per day.
Currently, the National Elephant Institute is preparing
and developing some programs regarding tourist attractions and toilet
facilities to serve the increasing numbers of visitors. This year they plan
to construct 20 more houses for long stay tourists and 5 houses in the
mahout’s training school.
The mahout training is going ahead full speed this year.
They aim to cover every mahout from elephant parks as well as independent
mahouts all over the country. It is hoped that all mahouts will have the
requisite skills in taking care of their elephants and the public image of
the mahout will be improved.
The first period of training focuses on mahouts in the
northern region, especially the independent mahouts in the highlands. They
will learn how to take care of the elephants with regards to their quality
The training is receiving financial support from
government organizations and the Tourist Authority of Thailand. This project
will be advantageous to the elephant population and the mahouts and
hopefully will do something to overturn the somewhat tarnished image of
elephant care in this country.
Pandas are coming
100 engineers building air-con housing for them
Chiang Mai Zoo is set to become the first in Asia to
receive a pair of rare pandas from the Chinese government. To welcome the
pandas, zoo officials are making sure that once they arrive, the pair will
be housed in comfort.
One hundred soldiers from the engineering battalion in
Ratchaburi Province are constructing a “Panda House”, complete with
air-conditioning, research center and souvenir shop (for tourists, not the
pandas). Officials hope that the project will be completed by July this
Chen Run Sheng, general secretary of the China Wildlife
Conservation Association, recently led a delegation of Chinese officials to
visit the new “Panda House” building project at Chiang Mai Zoo.
Chen Run Sheng said that the panda is a protected animal
in China, and to give a pair of pandas for research to Thailand is a sign of
the good relationship between the two countries.
The panda population in China is estimated to be around
1,000. There are only 125 pandas in the care of the Chinese government.
Currently, only 5 countries have pandas, including Thailand, which is the
first Asian country to receive pandas from China. Seven pandas have been
sent to America, 6 to Japan, 3 to Mexico, 2 to Germany and now 2 for
The panda’s new residence is a one-story
air-conditioned building with its own electric power generator in case of an
electrical outage. The inside of the building includes a panda’s area, a
souvenir shop, panda’s food storage room, staff bedroom, and an
Just who wouldn’t be a panda?
School boat for students next semester?
Bus or boat, everyone will get to classes
After next summer’s school term, some students may be
getting to class via water transport, according to information given to Chiangmai
Mail by Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn.
The mayor said that Chiang Mai municipality plans to
commission the “School Boat” project as a new mode of transportation
along the Ping River, in addition to the electric shuttle bus project, which
is expected to begin sometime this February.
“Students whose schools are near or located on the Ping
River’s bends will be served by school boats as an alternative way of
transportation,” the mayor said. The school boats will be launched after
the summer due to the Ping River dredging project that will support the
As river transport could be dangerous, the municipality
will set up a security system for the project. “Everyone has to wear a
life vest and there will be security guards stationed in each boat. However,
the school boat will not be in service in the tidal season to avoid water
accidents,” Boonlert said.
Regarding the electric bus project, the municipality is
negotiating with the Electric Shuttle Company Limited to buy the first group
of buses. Chiang Mai officials hope to buy the buses with 12 million baht
from the prime minister’s budget. The municipality will receive an
additional 48 million baht for the transportation systematization project.
Chiang Mai’s transportation policy under fire again
Northern researchers express concern over
the impacts on public health
Proposed and current efforts to solve Chiang Mai’s
transportation problems may have a downside as well as the hoped for
improvements. Assoc. Prof. Lamduan Srisakda, the president of Northern
Health Effect Assessment Researcher Network at Chiang Mai University, said
that the traffic problem is one of the city’s most important issues.
Research shows that city improvements affect both
positively and negatively, especially people’s health, including the
physical, mental, social, and spiritual sides. Students and the elderly are
the groups that are most at risk, it is claimed.
Next year Chiang Mai will have an elected mayor for the
first time, and Assoc. Prof Lamduan said that it is time for every part of
society, especially local politicians and mayoral candidates, to rethink and
review policies regarding traffic and transportation regulations.
Integrated community garbage management program launched
Mengrai municipal area becomes pilot project
Photos by Supatatt Dangkrueng
Chiang Mai Municipality’s Mengrai office was the site
for a garbage compactor demonstration put on by Lamphun Municipality in
accordance with the Integrated Community Garbage Management Program. Prapat
Panyachattirak, minister of Natural Resources and Environment presided over
the opening ceremony. More than 500 people joined the campaign parade, and
the activities included the above-mentioned demonstration, a stage
performance and the municipality’s environment exhibition.
wood chipper has been converted for use as a “garbage chopping machine”.
of Natural Resources and Environment Prapat Panyachattirak presided over the
The minister of natural resources and environment said
that the amount of garbage is increasing rapidly, and there is not enough
space to contain it, which in turn causes an environmental problem.
Accordingly, the municipality has set up recycling areas and set Mengrai
precinct as the pilot area for the Integrated Community Garbage Management
colorfully dressed students joined the parade.
Green Heart” - the stage performance at the beginning of this campaign.
Prapat said that the government would fully cooperate in dealing with the
garbage, because it has become a large problem with a high cost to manage.
However, the people have to solve this problem at its beginning by
separating recyclable garbage from organic garbage themselves, “for the
future good of their own communities”.
Mayor getting tough on environment pollution
The problem belongs to all of us,
says Mayor Boonlert
Chiang Mai people should pay more attention to our
environmental problems as well as try to have greater participation in the
city’s activities, said Chiang Mai’s mayor, Boonlert Buranupakorn. Mayor
Boonlert told Chiangmai Mail that he is concerned about the
environmental problems because the Chiang Mai plain is located on the Ping
River in a valley and accordingly the air cannot circulate well enough and
may cause some kinds of illnesses, such as allergies.
“Since Chiang Mai is a growing city, we are having more
and more pollution. Nowadays, the municipality is trying to solve pollution
problems by setting up many projects, such as the pollution signboards which
show the pollution level and air quality in the city, and the Green Fleet
project which randomly measures vehicle exhaust emissions every week. The
very first thing for me to do is to set up the sustainable environmental
management,” Mayor Boonlert said.
The Green Fleet project is following San Francisco’s
lead, aiming to reduce vehicle emissions by fining owners of polluting
motorcycles and cars. The vehicles have to attach a sticker at the first
warning and the drivers will be fined 2,000 baht if the exhaust emission is
not lowered before the second testing.
The mayor said that another problem for the improvement
of the city is the lack of people’s participation. In the past, Chiang Mai
people have not participated enough in the city’s activities. “It’s
time to join and participate in solving the city’s problems. I need Chiang
Mai people to have the sense of belonging.”
Elderly smokers targeted in Chiang Dao District
CMU wants them to live a lot longer
Chiang Mai University (CMU) recently launched its “Quit
Smoking” project for the elderly in Chiang Dao District, with an
exhibition and lectures on the dangers of continued cigarette smoking. Asst.
Prof. Dr. Ong-art Praisontarangkoon, head of the CMU Department of Medicine,
said this campaign was a cooperative effort by the Quit Smoking Clinic under
the supervision of the department, the Chiang Dao Elders Club and the Chiang
Following the government’s promotional campaign to
decrease incidence of cigarette smoking, it was decided that the Quit
Smoking program for the elderly should be instituted. Assoc. Prof. Dr.
Wicharn Lorwittaya, director of Maharaj Nokhon Chiang Mai Hospital said that
the incidence of smoking related illnesses has been increasing annually.
There are many respiratory diseases that can result in a
decreased quality of life, or even premature death, that can be related to
cigarette smoking, as well as the increase in cancer deaths. It is never too
late to stop, and those who do will have clean lungs after 24 months.
Meanwhile, Asst. Prof. Dr. Chaicharn Potirat of the
department said that the project’s objective was to encourage those who
had been smoking to realize the dangers of continued smoking and then
voluntarily give up. Under the Quit Smoking plan, there are various target
groups, with the 500 elderly folk in Chiang Dao District being just one of
Thai-Burmese Culture and Economy Alliance being set up in Chiang Rai
The Thai-Burmese Culture and Economy Alliance set up a
new branch in Chiang Rai on January 15. It is part of a strategy to foster
cooperation between the two countries and another way to support the foreign
policy of the government.
Sanan Khachornklum, the senior secretary of the
Thai-Burmese Culture and Economy Alliance said that the work of the alliance
in Chiang Rai is to connect and tighten the relationships between the people
of the two countries in culture, economy, tourism, trading and investment
The alliance recently held a meeting, chaired by Sukijja
Karunanond, deputy Chiang Rai provincial governor, and attended by officers
from government, private company and the mass media, to elect a president
and vice president. Dr. Thanomsak Seriwitchayasawat was elected president
and said he will set working groups to implement the aims and objectives.
The senior secretary of Thai-Burmese Culture and Economy
Alliance also said that anyone interested in becoming a member of the
alliance could contact them through the Mae Sai district administration
office, Chiang Rai.
50 million ya ba pills await transport into Thailand
1 million discovered in a cornfield by the 3rd Army
A million amphetamine pills buried in a cornfield in Pai
District, Mae Hong Son were seized last week by the 3rd Region Army. The ya
ba was contained in 10 field packs, each with 100,000 pills.
Lt. Gen. Udomchai Ongkasingha, the commander of the 3rd
Region Army, said that officers are cracking down on drug dealers. They
received a report from their informants that there would be a Wa dealer
group transporting 2 million ya ba pills into Ban Kaay Luang, Burma.
The commander said that the operation teams could only
find 1 million pills because around 400,000 pills had been already delivered
to Chinese Haw dealers and another 600,000 pills are apparently still in
Lt. Gen. Udomchai admitted that in each shipment of drugs
there is always involvement of the local people, especially the minority
groups. He also revealed there is a new delivery ruse for the drugs by
putting them into O.K. brand milk containers, and it is believed that the
filling process is done out of our country.
“Much of the ya ba is trafficked through Mae Hong Son
because the Salwin River makes it easier ... the 3rd Region Army cannot
cover many points along the river. The way to solve the problem is to create
undercover news sources from the areas. I believe that there are more than
50 million pills waiting for delivered through the border of Mae Hong Son,
Chiang Rai, and Chiang Mai,” the commander explained.
PM’s 3 month ya ba eradication plan in operation
One down, how many to go?
One dealer was killed last week during a ya ba drug
transaction sting at Chiang Saen District in Chiang Rai Province. The
provincial police region 5 received a tip-off that there would be an
amphetamine drug transfer in their area, so Pol. Lt. Gen Inthadej
Pornpeerapan, the provincial police region 5 commissioner assigned Chiang
Rai provincial police to spring the trap on the drug peddlers.
(seated), accused of drug smuggling, poses with police, 200,000 amphetamine
pills and a 9mm pistol (lower left).
Pol. Maj. Gen. Wut Wititanond, the commander of Chiang
Rai Provincial Police said the plainclothes officers were sent undercover to
buy the ya ba from 4 drug dealers. While making the arrests, gunfire ensued
and one dealer was found dead after the smoke cleared.
After that, one dealer was apprehended and 200,000 ya ba
pills and a 9 mm pistol were confiscated. Police noted that the packaging
used was identical to what they had come across when discovering 600,000
pills a couple days earlier. It is assumed that the dealers are from the
same network, and the accused has been taken for questioning.
Pol Lt Gen Inthadej said the ya ba is coming from
neighboring countries and being channeled through the border area. The drug
caravans are difficult to police, with much subterfuge and disguise being
used. Milk cartons are currently being used.
Since it is the PM’s intention to eradicate the ya ba
supply within 3 months, the provincial police region 5 has been tasked to
try and eradicate an estimated 67 drug networks in the region, and they are
in readiness to deal with the drug dealers. But resources and man-power are
always a problem.
Pol Lt Gen Inthadej said that briefings are taking place every day with
monthly meetings to discuss progress. To control the 67 ya ba networks named
on the northern region list, police need more clues and hard evidence and to
nail the big one.
Kwan Nan Center attacks local drug problem
The Kwan Nan Center has been set up to look after drug
addicts through providing training and rehabilitation. Since November 7 last
year, 457 patients have been treated and authorities are satisfied that the
project is viable.
Suwat Chokesuwattanasakul, Nan governor, said that the
drug problem in Nan affects the social and economic fabric of local
societies and is a threat to national security.
Of those who have been treated in the center, less than
5% have returned to their former drug addict ways after completing the
10-day treatment regimen. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited the Kwan
Nan Center on January 17 and was very interested in the results.
The center was designed to solve the drug addiction
problem, and to encourage people to be aware of drugs in the area and the
insidious nature of the addiction cycle. Activities involved in the
treatment cover psychological practice, special education from specialists,
The patients are taught to spend their daily life in
their communities by following social rules with their new awareness. This
center also is a resource agency and collects data on drug dealers in order
to assist in suppression and prevention, which will eventually lead to a
Foreigners targeted for dope testing
Apparent ethnocentric bias a worry
Mae Hong Son Governor Supoj Laowansiri, acting as
director of the Provincial Drug Prevention and Suppression Center in Mae
Hong Son, said during a recent meeting with the press that according to
reports, many foreigners come to Pai District to use drugs. Consequently, he
has assigned Pai’s chief district officer to work through the
investigation for specific details.
The governor said that many tourists come to visit Mae
Hong Son, and to check on drug use he has asked police officers to perform
drug tests and search for drugs among foreigners. This rumor has affected
the image of tourism in the area and is a very sensitive issue, so the
solution to the problem has to be looked at very carefully.
In fighting the drug problem at local levels, the
province is focusing on teaching youths to be aware of the drug problem.
Projects include the Puan Tuan Puan (Friends Counsel Friends), White School,
and the Thai Force to Combat Drugs.
The number of drug addicts in Mae Hong Son compared to
other provinces is lower, but the number of drug dealers is higher. For
prevention and suppression, the problem may need some intensive solutions,
and when using under-cover investigation these have to be done very
Beware of imitation “bird’s nest” energy drinks
Look before you drink, says chief medical officer
Mae Hong Son Provincial Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Suwat
Kittidilokkul reported that consumers should be aware that imitation low
priced bird’s nest beverages, sold in plastic cups or by the stalls in
markets and fairs, appear to be becoming commonplace.
The chief medical officer said that consumers should
understand that those bird’s nests might not be genuine because this kind
of beverage is always expensive. The cheap swallow’s nest beverage may be
made from a type of wood oil called Darayagum.
“The imitation (drinks) look very much like the real
item but are stiffer. It is difficult for consumers to distinguish between
them. There is nothing to prove that the false nests are not harmful to the
people, so customers should look for the higher priced bird’s nests for
their own safety,” said Dr. Suwat.
He stressed that consumers have to be careful and only
purchase from reliable sources. Registered commercial beverages must be
labeled to inform the purchaser of the name of the food, the registration
number, the location of the producers, ingredients, manufacturing date, and
expiry date. The chief medial office stated that everyone should read the
labels very carefully for themselves.
Children’s Rights Center reviews results
Child abuse, human trafficking and hill tribe education rate high
Throughout the year 2002 and into the New Year, police
reports were reviewed by the Chiang Mai Coordination Center for Protection
of Child’s Rights on juvenile crime, which were divided into 6 groups: 208
property cases, 65 physical case, 1,106 drugs, 34 gambling cases, 79 weapons
and bombing cases, 26 sexual assault cases, and 367 others.
The statistics regarding children whose rights had been
violated was also discussed. There were 53 girls and 7 boys who were
physically and mentally tortured, 12 girls and 14 boys were neglected, 6
girls and 11 boys were picked up begging and the other cases involved 15
Child assistance has included a community play project,
which was held on January 24 at the Chiang Mai University Art Museum. The
play indicated how children can protect themselves from internet danger.
Another activity has been organized by the board from Chiang Mai University.
This is a training workshop for teenage hill tribe children on computers,
Thai, English, Thai massage, and to give them scholarships to continue their
The Chiang Mai Coordination Center for Projection of
Child’s Rights also held a meeting of sub-committees and concluded
agreements regarding human trafficking. The meeting was held according to
the announcement no. 29/2545 of the National Youth Bureau Committee that the
sub committee in charge of the children and women in 8 provinces in the
North needed to be appointed to help these people. This subcommittee will
report back by March.