HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Elephants and people join the celebration on 4th Thai Elephant Day

Wadthampla - Maesai

His Serene Highness Prince Bhisadej Rajanee welcomes the Crown Prince of Bhutan

Beam your way to whiter teeth

Chiangmai - Fifty-three years later

Elephants and people join the celebration on 4th Thai Elephant Day

by staff reporters

The 4th Thai Elephant Day was celebrated at the Mae Sa Camp and the National Elephant Institute, with many activities for both elephants and elephant lovers during the day. Being one of Thailand’s national symbols, elephants have been loved by the Thai people for many centuries. The elephant is the only animal involved in the national institutions of the Nation, the Religion, and the Monarchy. Consequently, Thai elephants are respected as our country’s animal. Accordingly, March 13 of every year is celebrated as “Thai Elephant Day”.

Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook signals the opening.

(from left) Chao Duangduan Na Chiang Mai, Governor Pisit Khetphasook, and Mae Sa Camp owner Choochart Kalmapijit officially open the ceremony before the “Satoke Chang” began.

On their way to the Satoke Chang area.

The activities at the National Elephant Institute in Lampang were held especially for the elephants. They could have a day off and were given extra food from kindhearted sponsors. There was also a religious ritual including a ceremony for elephants who had died, and Bai Sri Soo Kwan, a blessing ceremony to give the living elephants courage.

In Chiang Mai, thousands of people came to celebrate the Elephant Day in the Mae Sa Elephant Camp, being presided over by Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook. After the governor had officially opened the ceremony, 74 elephants filed down from the high ground heading towards their lunch area and then “Satoke Chang”, the elephant Lanna-style buffet began, with the elephants enjoying their bananas and sugar cane despite the rain.

The elegant elephant buffet.

“Sabadchai Drum” is performed by the boys from Ban Dek Chai orphanage.

74 elephants parade down from the hills.

Rain did not dampen anyone’s spirits.

Let’s guess what the elephant artist is painting.

There was also a small gallery of strange pictures, some looked like waterfalls, or flowers, or trees. These might have been thought of as quite ordinary if there had not been a sign telling the people that these were painted by the elephants! This type of art was demonstrated by five small elephants who carried boxes of paints and paintbrushes and started to “draw” pictures just like the ones the visitors could see in the gallery.

The elephant boxing show was popular with the crowd, who by now had forgotten about the rain, watching a little elephant in red boxing shorts using its trunk to hold a boxing glove whilst punching the elephant in the blue corner.

The Mae Sa Elephant Camp was established by Choochart Kanmapijit in 1976, and from the initial 5 elephants the reserve has grown to 74. Nine babies have been born in the camp, Kamsan, Lankam, Duanpen, Wanpen, Songpan, Panpeth, Thongpoon, Kamtool and newborn, Thongthai which was given its name on Thai Elephant Day by Somsak Sanarsa, the winning participant in the name the elephant contest.

Wadthampla - Maesai

Story by Marion Vogt Pictures by Michael Vogt

Everybody living in Chiang Mai is a most fortunate person. But even having the privilege to be here, sometimes you must go out and explore the surroundings. If you start driving through the countryside you might as well start looking around for things and scenery which are not so occupied by tourists and tour groups. One of these sights is Wadthampla in Maesai. While leaving Chiang Mai and driving north, you will see that the North is a mountainous region comprising natural forests, ridges and deep, narrow, alluvial valleys.

In case you get lost - that is the sign you have to look for.

An ancient Chedi, embedded in the most beautiful scenery.

This incinerator is used to burn fake money, incest sticks and other items, in order to keep the spirits happy and in a good mood.

That fellow looks pretty relaxed, but wait until he spots the bananas or peanuts which you have bought.

A mountainous area where winter temperatures are cool enough to allow the cultivation of temperate fruits such as apples, strawberries and peaches, the North offers us a pleasing alternative to the bright lights of Bangkok, the business of the university town Chiang Mai and the beaches of the south. Talking about the North, we talk about an approximate area of 170,000 square kilometers, bordering on the territories of Laos and Myanmar.

But getting back to that special temple I want to tell you about today, it is located in Mae Chan, which is a town some 35 km north of Chiang Rai, about halfway between Chiang Rai and Mae Sai. The town itself is a trading post for the Akha and Yao Hill people who sell their goods. But every tour guide will tell and show you all this. What most people do not know and what we did not find in any travel guides, is the almost hidden Wadthampla. Now don’t say: “oh another Wat”. This one is well worth the visit. It is hidden away and you see nothing special except some locals sitting outside the gate and selling fruits. Now, it’s not: been there, seen that ... no!

When you walk through, you can see the enormous trees shaking and trembling and while you look closer you see herds of monkeys jumping from tree to tree. Monkeys in all sizes, colors and ages, running around you, walking with you and accompanying you while walking nearer the mountain and cave. And there you will stand amazed. A huge cave filled with water and fish and the mountain outside full of monkeys who live in a natural free surrounding. It would not be Thailand if the vendor with peanuts and bananas would not be there, but this is acceptable, since funny enough; these monkeys behave in a far better way than the monkeys from the well known town of Lopburi.

Monkey business, wherever you look.

Feeding time - they are hungry, but not aggressive.

But of course the monkeys are not the only attractions; there is also the almost hidden Chedi with its golden bands and the young monks taking care of Wat Tham Plaa.

So next time you travel towards Chiang Rai, plan a side trip to see the hidden temple of Mae Chan.

His Serene Highness Prince Bhisadej Rajanee welcomes the Crown Prince of Bhutan

Supatatt Dangkrueng and Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai

The Crown Prince of Bhutan, His Royal Highness Dasho Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, visited the Royal Agricultural Stations on Doi Angkhang on March 15. His Serene Highness Prince Bhisadej Rajani, the chairman of Royal Project Foundation welcomed the Crown Prince at the Angkhang Royal Project and escorted him on a tour of the station.

HRH Crown Prince Dasho Jigme greeted junior hill tribe volunteers.

HSH Prince Bhisadej brought the Prince of Bhutan to see the goat farms at Angkhang station.

HRH Crown Prince Dasho Jigme and HSH Prince Bhisadej at the Ban Nor Lae Military Operation Outpost.

The Royal Agricultural Station, Angkhang, is located in Mae Ngon Sub-district in Fang District, Chiang Mai Province and is 1,400 meters above mean sea level. Its name, Angkhang, is a northern word meaning a rectangular bowl, which describes the station lying at the bottom of the hills in its bowl-like shape.

There are 6 villages under the supervision of the station, including 4 hill tribe peoples, the Thai Yai, Black Lahu, Palong and Chinese Haw minority groups.

Since the region experiences lower temperatures on average, Angkhang is an experimental station of highland agriculture and cultivation of deciduous fruits including strawberry, kiwi fruit, raspberry, Chinese pear, peach, and Chinese plum.

Crown Prince Dasho Jigme is particularly interested in social development, as he is doing a master’s degree at Oxford University, and has participated in international forums regarding social development.

(Left) The Bhutan Crown Prince admired the hard work done by the local people.

The Crown Prince of Bhutan enjoys a moment with hill tribe people.

Crown Prince Dasho Jigme took some time to hand feed the goats.

HRH Crown Prince Dasho Jigme viewed the irrigation canal at the Angkhang station.

Bhutan and Thailand have done much in cooperation, particularly in agriculture, and there are many exchange programs for researchers. Last year, high-ranking officers of the Royal Project Foundation and Agriculture and Cooperative Ministry, Thailand, visited Bhutan and Bhutanese officers had been accepted into training schemes in Thailand.

After visiting Angkhang station, the Crown Prince visited Huay Luek Development Center in Chiang Dao District and the Royal Project Foundation in Chorm Thong District, Chiang Mai Province.

Beam your way to whiter teeth

There is something new in town: laser tooth whitening, which was first brought to Thailand by Dr. Achara Pandaeng.

Dr. Achara Pandaeng

Dr. Arunthai Dehavastin

Tooth color is in most cases an inherited trait; however, tooth color mainly depends upon the condition of teeth, dental health and lifestyle.

Various factors could lead to tooth darkening. The most common factors are the intake of staining fluids such as cola, coffee, tea, wine, cigarettes, and of course the aging process. In olden times, a discolored smile was something we had to live with, but not anymore. Tooth bleaching has been revolutionized by the use of laser technology. With state of the art laser equipment, the whitening procedure can be completed in just one visit, and it takes only about 11/2 hours. It is safe and painless because it works with light.

But let us ask the professionals...

CMM: Dr. Anchara, we know your Tooth Whitening clinic is very successful in Bangkok. What made you bring it to Chiang Mai?

Dr. Anchara: I bought the machines in USA and was also trained over there. But since I get more and more people from the North flying down to Bangkok to have the treatment done, I decided to expand, and the first center in the North will be with Dr. Arunthai. He is perfect for the job, since he can communicate with the patients not only in Thai and English, but also in fluent German, as he used to work and train in Berlin, Germany for a number of years. Both he and his wife are dentists, their clinic is in the middle of town, and they are professionals.

CMM: Tell us about the advantage of laser tooth whitening?

Dr. Anchara: Laser whitening is far more superior to traditional bleaching methods because dramatic results are achieved with just one treatment. It saves wearing a tray eight hours a day for up to six weeks, which often achieves less satisfactory results.

CMM: How does laser whitening work? Could you explain the step-by-step process?

Dr. Anchara: First, we clean your teeth with a sandy, pumice-like material to remove the plaque. Then we protect your gum and soft tissue before a peroxide-based gel is applied, followed by laser light to activate the gel. The laser energy ‘excites’ the hydrogen peroxide into a higher energy state, which expels the free radical oxygen. This, in turn, ‘attacks’ the organic molecule which constitutes the stain.

CMM: Will it hurt?

Dr. Anchara: Laser light is generally a much faster way to activate the bleaching process and that is much less sensitizing, resulting in significantly less stress on the nerve and the pulp on the tooth. Some patients experience sensitivity to hot or cold right after the process, but this will generally go away the next day.

CMM: Will laser damage my teeth?

Dr. Anchara: No. When mentioning laser, people will usually think of laser light that cuts through things, like the laser that is used in surgery. However, the laser which is used for tooth whitening is the diode laser that’s function is to activate the whitening gel and initiate the chemical reaction that produces the whitening effect. It does not actually penetrate the teeth.

CMM: How long will it last?

Dr. Anchara: This depends on the habit of each individual. Do you drink a lot of coffee or tea, and smoke on top of it? Do you take good care of your teeth? In general your teeth will stay white for 11/2 to 2 years before showing discoloration again. However, the degree of discoloration will not be as severe as before doing the laser whitening.

CMM: Dr. Arunthai- please tell us: How can we reach you? How much do you charge here in Chiang Mai and what is your telephone number?

Dr. Arunthai: So many questions at once... since you are here, you know that the clinic is in walking-distance from the Novotel and Rimping Department store. If someone is interested in having a nice white smile again, just give us a call on 01 024 2492. Our clinic is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We can give you a consultation in English, Thai and German, and as an introduction price for Chiangmaians we will charge only 10,000 baht until the end of March. From April onwards the price will increase by 2,000 baht.

CMM: Dr. Anchara and Dr. Arunthai, thank you very much for the informative talk! We wish you a very good start and many patients as happy as ourselves after the treatment.

Chiangmai - Fifty-three years later

by Linda Edwards

With papers in order, in late spring 1950, after an 18-hour train ride north, our family came to our new hometown Chiangmai, Thailand. We had heard it was in the northern rice and jungle province. We found a once red brick, medieval-walled town surrounded by perfectly square rice patty farms and inhabited by ingenious, self-sufficient people.

The Thailand nation, the romantic kingdom of Siam until 1939, is a land of many faces, all having in common their love of country. Even though most of the people are still farmers in small, rural villages, one visiting Bangkok or even Chiangmai might believe that Thailand is truly one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

In 2003 I found Chiangmai to be a city of diverse people with many interests and vocations. There are vendors in the Night Bazaar, drivers of the tuk tuks (taxis), still rice farmers, hill tribe craftspeople, silk weavers, silver makers, business owners, immigrants, ex-patriots who have found their way to this unique Asian city, and, yes, rice farmers. What I saw on this trip to Thailand (Mae Sot, Chiangmai, and Bangkok included) was in many ways the same as I remembered from long ago - a land of smiles and people living, working, and playing in a tropical and beautiful place.

My name is Linda Ruth Edwards, and I am proudly one of the earliest American residents of Chiangmai. In 1950, at the age of six years, with my parents Charles Henry and Ruby Edwards and my brothers Kenneth and Henry, ages 8 and 12, we moved from Tennessee, USA, to Thailand.

My name is Linda Ruth Edwards, and I am proudly one of the earliest American residents of Chiangmai. In 1950, at the age of six years, with my parents Charles Henry and Ruby Edwards and my brothers Kenneth and Henry, ages 8 and 12, we moved from Tennessee, USA, to Thailand.

My father was employed by the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly as the Tobacco Specialist, who traveled from the United States to establish an experimental station to perfect the tobacco for the Thai tobacco industry, and brought from America the tobacco seeds that were used for this purpose. He wrote, for the government, the only book on how to grow tobacco in Thailand for the cigarette industry.

To get to Thailand in those days, you embarked on a very long trip. We flew on four-engine propeller airliners from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Gander, Newfoundland, Canada; to London, England; to Paris, France; to Rome, Italy; to Damascus; to Basra, to Calcutta, India; and finally to Bangkok, Thailand. We had arrived on what was claimed to be one of the hottest days in local memory - certainly hotter and more humid than anything we’d seen in Tennessee - and on the way in from the airport sat sweltering in the sun in our chauffeured car over an hour for a royal cavalcade to pass.

What would be the chances that this exact situation repeated itself again when I arrived two weeks ago? After forty-five minutes, the taxi driver explained our lack of motion in downtown Bangkok: “the King of Thailand.” Within a few minutes of these words, sure enough, a procession of dozens of motorcycles, vans, and finally, the royal limousine with flags, indicating the special passenger!

In the winter of 1951, we returned to the United States through Hong Kong and then on across the Pacific on the USS President Wilson from Tokyo to Hawaii to San Francisco, for some 28 days. This was a long journey for a little American girl, one that would hardly be believed later by some of my classmates in rural Tennessee.

When I returned to school in the States in 1951 saying, “I’ve been around the world,” they just turned their heads and ran off to swing. That just wasn’t possible. But it was. My grandfather had another way to explain it: “It sure 0ust have had, minus the fear. I wanted to see the country again and see how it has developed. Chiangmai is now not a village of 5000 inhabitants, but a city with a population over 150,000 people, many now English-speaking.

This travel is also about rediscovering some of my roots, with more interest than ever, now that my parents are deceased (I have returned on two other occasions). They were the first in our family who dreamed the dream of going to the Orient; however, the dream lives on as a second generation has found a place under the sun. My daughter Emily, within months of being accredited as a physician, chose Thailand, of all the countries of the world, for an international rotation, as she finishes medical school at the University of Virginia.

She is working in Dr. Cynthia’s Clinic, just inside the Thai border near the town of Mae Sot. The clinic, begun by young Australian Dr. Cynthia and renowned for its humanitarian achievements, services day refugees who are allowed over the Myanmar border from 6 a.m. till 6 p.m. for medical care. There is some treatment for cases of AIDS and malaria; there are amputations performed (from landmines) and prosthetics to be made. 800 babies a year are born in these cinderblock buildings; they have plywood delivery tables. Some of the babies have HIV, if the mothers did not come early enough for treatment.

The most poignant story may be that of a little boy, less than two, who lives at the clinic, his mother having died, his father not located, with nowhere else to go. The roving medics and doctors care for him, in lieu of his parents. I wanted to experience this amazing clinic, with Emily; this would help me know something of the way she will be when she returns, changed forever.

During my short stay in the village of Mae Sot in Chiangmai Province, I spent some of my days tutoring English as a second language on the floor of a church. My children were also day immigrants, some whose parents came over the border from old Burma just for the day, to sell in the market or to beg. The job was the same for the children, unless somehow they found their way to this church for the day, a house of refuge, a warm lunch, a little schooling in math and language, and a bunch of hugs.

Everyone who travels to Thailand, as a tourist, as a student, or as a worker, comes away changed, but only to the extent they really get to know the people. It only takes one acquaintance to get a taste.

On a day that school was out, a little girl came up to me in the street. As she tugged at my arm and held out her hand to beg, I looked into the eyes of a child that had sat in my lap the day before learning her first English word “house.” I refused, taking her hand and leading her across the street to the mini-market. I opened the cooler and asked her to pick something. She picked Pepsi. I pointed to the chocolate milk and she chose white. I purchased both, putting the Pepsi and some lunch money in her worn backpack. She smiled, running off, thinking she would see me the next day at school. I was saddened to think that I would not be there for her. I hope that little girl received one of the pencils and pads that my daughter would take to the school in a few days.

Now that I am looking backward and forward, I wonder, when Emily returns in fifty years, if this little village will be a city, as Chiangmai is today. Perhaps all the border problems will be solved and my little girl will have found her place under the sun of a free country.

To be continued...

Copyright, Linda Edwards, March, 2003.