HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Wat Rong Khun

Swairiang Chiang Mai kicks off with spectacular shows

Kad Suan Kaew expansion on target

Gung Hey Fat Choy

Prem Tinsulanonda Center hosts regional IB Asia Pacific Workshops

China Girl where are you?

Wat Rong Khun

A labor of love and devotion

Nuttanee Thaveephol

“Only death can stop my dream, but cannot stop my project,” says Chalermchai Kositpipat, the creator of Wat Rong Khun whose intention is to create one of the most elegant temples in Chiang Rai, which he believes will give him “immortal life”.

The church shines in the sunlight.

There are always many people visiting the temple, even in the evening.

Elegant murals inside the church.

About 10 kilometers from the Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai-Phayao Junction, or about 13 kilometers south of Chiang Rai City, is “Wat Rong Khun”, still under construction in Chiang Rai, the hometown of its creator, Chalermchai, a very famous Thai artist.

The first 18 million baht and 5 years construction has only allowed 50% of the construction to be completed, but is enough to show anyone who visits Wat Rong Khun about Chalermchai and his followers’ faith in their religion and how much they have thrown themselves into this obligation as faithful Buddhists.

Wat Rong Khun is a white temple; inside it contains murals and paintings of the Buddha image and painted enamel ceramic floor that will take another 5 years to complete. The outside is being created with lime sculpture Thai designs decorated with small pieces of mirror that make the building sparkle and shine under the sunlight.

The impression of this temple is not only in its bright and splendid form but also the atmosphere it has. Even though the temple isn’t very far from the city, it is calm and peaceful even during the day.

It seems that the creator and his followers put all of their energies into creating this imaginative temple. Unlike many temples, Wat Rong Khun refuses to accept donations of more than 10,000 baht and the donors cannot have their names recorded on the buildings.

A Sculpture of a creature in Buddhist belief is decorated with small pieces of mirror.

Sparkles of the mirror respond to the Buddhists’ faith.

A small part of the church is still beautiful in the dusk.

Chalermchai wants to create this Buddhist art for his beloved homeland and all human beings by donating all of his ability and his life to the Dharma. Nobody knows when he will pass on but he insists that all the money be used to continue the project and his followers are ready to do that.

The second building is a pagoda, which has just been started behind the wat. There are eight buildings in the grand plan including the wat, pagoda, hermitage, temple, crematorium, monastery hall, museum, and pavilion will be created on the temple’s 7 rai area.

Wat Rong Khun’s white color indicates the religious gracefulness that attracts pure hearts of Buddhist people or anyone from other nationalities to touch and feel the aesthetics.

Swairiang Chiang Mai kicks off with spectacular shows

Story by Phitsanu Thepthong
Photos by Phitsanu Thepthong and
Nuttanee Thaveephol

Swairiang Chiang Mai, the river restaurant, produced a light and sound show on the water, viewed by one hundred visitors and guests while sampling Kad Mua, the northern market and enjoying a dinner.

Actors and actresses take a bow after the show.

An artist paints during the presentation by Thepsiri Sopha.

The performance on the “The River”.

A northern musical band entertains guests during the opening show and ceremony.

Artists displayed their work near the show.

The audience enjoyed the show.

The arts and cultural dances.

Part of the event was a drama called The River, produced and directed by Dr Nawaphumin Chaichompoo. The restaurant wants the general public to enjoy this nightly show and entertainment, especially the mini-light and sound show of the Lanna arts and culture, and acting out the legend of Phaya Naga in the water.

This story also included a religious ceremony to pay respects to the water spirits, called “Wai Pee Khun Nam,” with the actors dressed in ancient Lanna Thai style to present a story that had long been forgotten. The actors include Chalermpol Chaichana, Damrong Khammongkol, Chakchai Pinthong, and a dozen others being coached by Archon Valhi Panitchaphan. There are six scenes for this watery story taking around one and a half hours on the water stage.

Acharn Nakhon Pongnoi, well-known artist in the north, delivers the opening speech to the audience.

The light and backdrop created a stunning scene.

An actor and actress perform during the show.

Acharn Nakhon Pongnoi (left), well-known artist, and Pairote Kosumkajornkiart (standing 2nd left), the chairman of the Swairiang Chiang Mai Co., Ltd., with the performance troupe members.

Kad Suan Kaew expansion on target

Phitsanu Thepthong

Kad Suan Kaew shopping complex has negotiated a loan of more than 200 million baht from Krung Thai Bank to continue investment projects under the complex’s expansion and improvement plans.

From left: Alongkorn Tesabamrung, manager of Krung Thai Bank’s business office, Warin Soup-uppakarn, Krung Thai Bank’s senior director, Pol Lt Suchai Kengkarnkha, Kad Suan Kaew MD, and Mrs. Jirawilai Kengkarnkha, deputy MD of Kad Suan Kaew shopping complex after the contract signing ceremony recently held at Pang Suan Kaew Hotel.

The managing director of Kad Suan Kaew shopping complex, Pol Lt Suchai Kengkarnkha said the shopping center will be developed into a “One Stop Shopping Center” and should be completed shortly. This April, the Kad Dot Com, Channel Kid Zone, and food and entertainment zone will be opened for the public, he said.

According to Nakin Chalaopak of the Kad Suan Kaew shopping complex, 100 million baht of the Krung Thai Bank loan would be used for renovation work, such as shopping center infrastructure, entrances, gates and doors, passages, hall, parking spaces and toilets.

For the complex’s Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel, the management has set a budget of more than 100 million baht for further renovation work, including outside and interior decor, infrastructure, and hotel rooms, for both Huay Kaew and Suthep wings, as well as more facilities and guest comforts.

The sports complex will also be improved and expanded, to be the most comprehensive in Chiang Mai.

The first phase of the renovation project will be finished by April, and the second phase will be completed within the year.

Gung Hey Fat Choy

Wishing You Prosperity and Wealth

We are really lucky people living in Thailand. We can celebraฟte all holidays from whatever country we are from, plus the Thai holidays. And if that’s not enough we can renew our New Year’s resolutions 3 times per year, which we have by now placed in a cupboard marked “maybe next year.”

This youngster will no doubt be competing in the Chinese kiddy contest. (Photo by Metinee Chaikuna)

However, all hope is not lost with the resolutions made and forgotten on December 31, as there’s a second chance to start afresh with the celebration of Chinese New Year on February 1st. The Chinese New Year is very similar to the Western one, swathed in traditions and rituals. The origin of the Chinese New Year is itself centuries old - in fact, too old to actually be traced. It is popularly recognized as the Spring Festival and celebrations last 15 days.

Preparations tend to begin a month before the date of the Chinese New Year (similar to a Western Christmas), when people start buying presents, decoration materials, food and clothing. A huge clean-up gets underway days before the New Year, when Chinese houses are cleaned from top to bottom, to sweep away any traces of bad luck. Doors and windowpanes are given a new coat of paint, usually red, then decorated with paper designs with themes such as happiness, wealth and longevity printed on them.

The eve of the New Year is perhaps the most exciting part of the event, as anticipation creeps in. Here, traditions and rituals are very carefully observed in everything from food to clothing. Dinner is usually a feast of seafood and dumplings, signifying different good wishes. Delicacies include prawns, for liveliness and happiness, dried oysters (ho xi), for all things good, raw fish salad (yu sheng) to bring good luck and prosperity, angel hair (fai-hai), an edible hair-like seaweed to bring prosperity, and dumplings boiled in water (jiaozi) signifying a long-lost good wish for a family. It’s normal to wear something red as this color is meant to ward off evil spirits - but black and white are out, as these are associated with mourning.

After dinner, the family sits up for the night playing cards, board games or watching TV programs dedicated to the occasion. Lighting firecrackers on New Year’s Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year. On the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year to go out, and at midnight, the sky is usually lit up by fireworks.

On the day itself, an ancient custom called hong bao, meaning red packet, takes place. This involves married couples giving children and unmarried adults money in red envelopes. On New Year’s Day, nobody is supposed to wash their hair because it would mean washing away good luck for the New Year. Red clothing is preferred during this festive occasion, which is sure to bring the wearer a sunny and bright future. It is believed that one’s appearance and attitude during the New Year’s celebrations sets the tone for the rest of the year.

The family begins the year by passing on greetings from door to door, first to their relatives and then their neighbors. Like the Western saying, “Let bygones be bygones,” at Chinese New Year, grudges are very easily cast aside. You will hear many times, “Gung hey fat choy”, which means, “Wishing you prosperity and wealth”.

The Festival of Lanterns, which is a celebration with singing and dancing, marks the end of the New Year. Although Chinese New Year celebrations vary in different locations, the underlying message is one of peace and happiness for family members and friends.

So let us hope once again that the Year of the Goat or the Year of the Black Sheep will bring all of us Peace on Earth!

Prem Tinsulanonda Center hosts regional IB Asia Pacific Workshops

The Prem Center, in cooperation with the International Baccalaureate Asia Pacific (IBAP), held 12 International Baccalaureate (IB) Asia Pacific Workshops between January 18 - 27 at its campus in Mae Rim, Chiang Mai.

The IB Diploma Workshop leaders (with the name of the Institution and the subject in parenthesis) (L to R): Vivek Bammi (Jakarta International School, Indonesia - Theory of Knowledge), Lister Hannah (president, Prem Center, Chiang Mai), Shelley Gonzales (deputy director, IB Asia Pacific, Singapore), Nigel Forbes-Harper (Prem Tinsulanonda International School, Prem Center, Chiang Mai - English Language A), John Green (Li Po Chun, United World College, Hong Kong - Chemistry), Ibrahim Wazir (American International School Vienna, Austria - Higher Maths), and Ezra Schuster (Prem Center - workshops coordinator).

Over 240 teachers from 14 countries in the region, representing 70 schools were registered. The purpose of these workshops was to inform, qualify and ensure that IB teachers at whatever level are thoroughly prepared and oriented to deliver an exciting and challenging program.

The workshops included IB Diploma Workshops on Higher Level Maths, Maths Methods, Chemistry, English Language A; IB Primary Years Workshop, Intermediate and Advanced levels; IB Middle Years Workshops, Language B, Science & Technology.

IB programs are taught in over 1500 schools around the world and they are seen as the premier university entrance qualification programs. IB continues to expand rapidly and workshops such as this ensure that quality assurance and educational best practice are continually being reinforced.

The Prem Center has hosted Regional Workshops in the past but was particularly proud to be the first to be franchised to run a set of Workshops by IB Asia Pacific.

China Girl where are you?

Kad Suan Kaew offering B. 50,000 incentive in quest

Supatatt Dangkrueng

China Girl 2003 will be chosen at Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Complex February 1-2 this year, coinciding with the Chinese New Year celebrations. Pol Lt Surachai Kengkarnka, managing director of Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Complex, said they are offering this chance to teenage girls, aged 14-19, to come and take part in the China Girl Contest 2003.

The contest will be held at the front stage of the shopping mall starting from 3 p.m. on February 1 and the organizers are looking for a girl who is representative of the “new generation”. Prime requisites include good personality, self-confidence, and smart. With 50,000 baht up for grabs, many of our local beauties should be perfecting their grooming.

It is also hoped that this contest will support teenagers to show their natural abilities and spend their leisure times without drugs.

As a small bonus, Chinese New Year presents will be given away to visitors and customers who come shopping at Kad Suan Kaew that day.