HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Doi Saket turns 100

New orchid species named after HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

EGAT turns fly ash into bricks

Ad Book 2003 is now available

Coming home to Nong Khai

Itinerary: Thailand

Doi Saket turns 100

Phitsanu Thepthong

Doi Saket District celebrated its 100th year anniversary with fun and entertainment, including a contest to select a “Miss Thida Phra Chao Luang”, or the daughter of Phra Chao Luang. Chiang Mai governor, Pisit Khetphasook, and Surapol Panasarnpol, Doi Saket district chief jointly presided over the opening ceremony.

Fireworks above Nongbua Phra Chao Luang Lake.

MCs Panada Wongpudee (left), Miss Thailand 2000, and Charnvit Chaisiriwong (right), interview one of the contestants.

Some of the 17 contestants for the Miss Thida Phra Chao Luang line up for judging in their northern Thai costumes.

Mrs Samoekae (left) presents the winner’s plate to Miss Kanokwan.

Singers perform a duet on stage.

Mrs Samoekae Khetphasook (left), wife of Chiang Mai governor Pisit Khetphasook, awards the sash to Miss Kanokwan Fun-ngern, who was crowned Miss Thida Phra Chao Luang.

The boys performing “sword fighting and dancing”.

(L to R) Mrs Samoekae, Miss Wanranya Sirichan (who won the Miss Popular vote), the winning Miss Kanokwan, Miss Thamolwan, the first runner up and Pol Col Prasert Chantrapipat.

Miss Kanokwan Fun-ngern, 18, a Mathayom 6 grade student of San Kamphaeng School representing Choeng Doi Tambon Administration Organization, along with Kulamanee Shop, won the title of Miss Thida Phra Chao Luang, while Miss Thanolwan Wongvivat, 20, a Rajabhat Institute of Chiang Mai student representing New Changpuak Restaurant was the first runner-up.

The other fun fair festivities included a light and sound presentation aimed at preserving local Thai traditions and culture in Doi Saket.

These activities included traditional Thai folksong concerts and a light and sound show titled, “Bringing back the lotus and fishes”.

The festivities were part of a plan to develop the district and lake areas into an important tourist attraction for Chiang Mai and help preserve traditional Lanna Thai culture and heritage.

The king being carried in the spectacular grand procession.

The spectacular grand procession.

Actors perform as king and queen during the light and sound show.

The king being carried in the grand procession.

The senior women from the district perform the dok fai kham and fon pang local dances.

The king and queen in the story.

Girls perform the Lotus dance.

Dancing, representing the symbol of the lotus.

New orchid species named after HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Botanical Garden Organization has released details of the latest orchids found in Thailand in Chiang Mai and Tak. The director, Dr Veerachai Na Nakhon, disclosed that a group of botanical experts, Piyakaset Suksathan, Santi Watthana, Methee Wongnak and Surangrat Indhamusika had explored and found new species of orchids, of which two are new species in the world and one has been found for the first time in Thailand. The scientific team also included tropical orchid specialist Prof Dr Henrik Acrenlund Pedersen from Copenhagen.

‘Sinrindhonia mirabilis H.A. Pedersen & P. Suksathan’ can only be seen in Doi Hua Mud in Tak Province blooming during May to June.

Newly discovered in Thailand, the ‘Sirindhornia monophyla H.A. Pedersen & P. Suksathan’ can bee seen in Doi Hua Mud in Tak Province from March to June, as well in Myanmar and China.

Three of the orchids are named after HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to mark her 48th birthday, being named as the Sirindhornia genus. The scientific name is ‘Genus Sirindhornia H.A Pedersen & Suksathan’ and they can be found between 800-2,200 meters above sea level and are 10-40 centimeters high and violet-pink in color.

The first species named ‘Sirindhornia pulchella H.A. Pedersen & S. Indhamusika’ can be found 1,800 meters from sea level only in Doi Chiang Dao, blooming around April to June.

New genus orchid ‘Sirindhornia pulchella H.A. Pedersen & S. Indhamusika’ can only be seen in Doi Chiang Dao blooming around April to June.

The second species is called ‘Sirindhornia mirabilis H.A. Pedersen & P. Suksathan’ only be seen in Doi Hua Mud in Tak blooming May to June.

Another species, new to Thailand, is ‘Sirindhornia monophyla H.A. Pedersen & P. Suksathan’. It can be seen in Doi Hua Mud in Tak during March to June, as well as in the Shan State in Myanmar and Yunnan in southern China.

EGAT turns fly ash into bricks

Phitsanu Thepthong

Researchers from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and academics drawn from Thailand’s universities have found a use for lignite fly ash in Thailand: using it as a core component to make light-weight bricks that can even float on water.

The technique uses 70% fly ash, 20% cement, almost 10% lime and water, and 0.1% aluminum powder to make the brick, said Surachate Jungkasemchokchai, a researcher at the EGAT Research and Development Office. It took his research team and scientists from the Science Service Department almost two years to come up with the lightweight brick.

This fly ash is found in large amounts, as waste product of the Mae Moh lignite mine and thermal power plant in Lampang. Each year, up to two million tonnes of fly ash are released by the plants, added Surachate. This fly ash generally pollutes the environment, is a health hazard and spreads contamination to the surrounding areas. However, the research group has developed a new technology that changes the fly ash into a product of high value, usable in industry, as well as being commercially saleable.

EGAT researchers found that concrete made of 70% fly ash has a strong resistance to erosion caused by sea water, and EGAT now sells more than one million tonnes of fly ash a year as a major ingredient for making concrete.

According to Assoc Prof Dr Chesada Kasemset, director of the Institute for Science and Technology Research and Development, Chiang Mai University, who is one of the successful 13-member team of the Utilized Lignite Fly Ash Group, lignite fly ash has been successfully developed in Thailand and has a very high potential for further application.

Director Chesada noted that at present, domestic cement production totals 27 million tonnes annually. This leaves about 3 million tons of fly ash still unused. If more utilization is possible, this will greatly help in pollution control. This cement is of a high quality. Therefore, more studies on its utilization should be carried out. At present, government agencies are working on uses such as filling or pavement material, as well as soil stabilization improvement.

Ad Book 2003 is now available

The 2003 edition of The Advertising Book, Thailand Advertising, Marketing, Media Guide since 1984, containing an updated information on around 4,000 companies and over 10,000 professionals involved in advertising, creative, marketing, promotion, media, and new media industries, is now available.

While most company listings come with contact address, telephone/fax numbers, e-mail and URL addresses, and the name of directors, ad agencies section also provides information on agency billings and clients. Major advertisers section contains information on product categories, brands, ad agencies and media spending by companies.

Besides listings, the directory showcases creative work by most leading ad agencies, photographers, TVC production houses, multimedia presentation organizers, market research and media companies.

The Advertising Book is now available at most leading bookstores at 500 baht per copy or can be ordered directly from the publishers by calling 02 580 6665, 02 580 7770.

Coming home to Nong Khai

by Kathryn Brimacombe

As I look through the dirty window at the Isaan countryside rolling past, I have to pinch myself to make sure this is not a dream. Four days ago I was in Canada saying goodbye to family and friends, one-way ticket in hand back to my beloved Thailand.

“...happy to be finally in Nong Khai ... happy to be home.”

Now, more than 10,000 km, a 24-hour layover, countless time zones, and one international dateline later, I am sitting in a lower sleeping bunk on a very slow rapid train destined for Nong Khai. Although I am itching to get there (I haven’t seen my partner for more than three months and by looking at my watch I see we are already several hours late) I am enjoying the long journey from Bangkok.

Isaan and Nong Khai are not strangers to me. When we lived in Laos, I would always escape the melee and confusion of building a restaurant in a tiny mountainous town to come to Nong Khai every few weeks for two-days R and R. Nong Khai was a paradise to me - a place with paved roads, a language I could understand to a certain degree and wide flat expanses of landscape that made me feel free.

My favourite time for walking was in the early evening when the air along the Mekong River boardwalk would chill just slightly and the sky would turn into delicate velvet. The cool evening withdrew people from their homes with a soft caress, a welcoming change from the glaring, intense light and smothering heat that kept them prisoners in the shade of their houses.

The Mekong River has always fascinated me - it is like an animal, a living, breathing, moving creature. Its currents are its muscles; with the strength of a panther, it moves smoothly and stealthily like a python. In the evening the Mekong always seemed to come alive, changing its colour like a chameleon, camouflaging itself against the darkening sky until it swallowed the sun.

“The Mekong River has always fascinated me - it is like an animal, a living, breathing, moving creature.”

As my thoughts return to the present, my eyes refocus on the scene on the other side of the glass, and I see we are leaving the city of Khon Kaen. Tall concrete buildings, trucks, and tuk-tuks, softly lit by the sun’s early morning glow, are soon replaced by brown rice paddies, green fields, and tall, arching trees. The train porter shuffles down the aisle in slippered feet, stopping at each bunk to fold up the mattresses, removed the bedding, and pull down the seats, now that it’s gone 7 a.m. and the rest of the travellers are awake.

As he approaches my bunk, I slip away to let him do his work, and decide to view the countryside from the conjunction between this car and the next. Wrenching open the door and stepping out of the air-conditioned compartment, the heat strikes me as if I’d walked into a furnace, and the smell of dust and smoke is so strong I can taste it on my tongue. Everything seems so dry-the cracked earth, the dust, my mouth. After several minutes I return to the cold sanctuary of the car, and the air tingles my hot skin.

I watch the sun climb higher, burning off the soft peachy haze that arose with the dawn, until its light becomes glaring white. The train finally picks up speed and we race past copses of trees, trees that have extended their limbs upwards and outwards like an umbrella, so that they form an irregularity in the landscape, giving form, shape and shade to an otherwise flat land. The arid geography is dotted with colour that stands out against the dry brown-lime-green banana trees, pools of water covered with bright pink lilies, and empty dirt roads the colour of ochre that extend out beyond the horizon to the smoky-blue sky.

For almost half an hour I see no sign of life, except for an occasional water buffalo or a long-necked white egret standing silent with the lilies. Then we pass by a field full of tall corn and rows of yellow flowers. An older woman leads three white cows with large humps on their backs along a dirt path. An old man stands outside their home-a small wooden house built on stilts with a rusty corrugated roof, surrounded by large clay pots and ducks - watching the train roll by, his hands on his hips, a red and white chequered sarong wrapped around his waist. Then, as quickly as they appeared before me, they are gone.

Several hours later the train pulls into Nong Khai station. Spotting a farang face in the car, the tuk-tuk drivers run to keep up, grinning and waving wildly. But then as we slow to a stop, I see my partner standing on the platform waiting for me with a smile, and butterflies begin fluttering in my belly. I smile back, happy to be finally in Nong Khai, but also happy to be home.

Itinerary: Thailand

A Cultural Exchange of Friendship with California

Their warm smiles are, to be honest, better than their singing. Still, the familiar American melody, “This Land is Your Land,” brings smiles to the faces of their Thai hosts. About 20 Rotarian Club members, some with their spouses and children, arrived at the Rotary meeting to share a Thai meal and to greet these five Californian travelers.

The first verse of their song is:

“This land is your land,

This land is my land!

From California,

To the New York Island.

From the redwood forests,

To the Gulf Stream waters.

This land was made for you and me!”

The second verse has a uniquely Thai twist to it:

“This land is your land,

This land is Thailand!

From Maekok River,

To Phuket Island.

From the Angkang Forest,

To the Golden Triangle.

This land was made for you and me.”

A cultural exchange between the USA and Thailand is springing up all over the northern provinces this month. A team of five young-at-heart, professional Americans are visiting dozens of host Thai families, all members of Rotary International. Their enthusiasm is as refreshing as an ice-cold bucket of Songkran water running down your back. The cultural exchange, sponsored by Rotary International, is fostering friendships that are warmer than the sweltering Thai summer heat.

“We represent five different occupations and cultures from the Golden State of California,” said Team Leader Wally Hofmann, who is a 15-year Rotarian and serves as International Service Director for his club of 65 members in the High Sierra resort town of Mammoth Lakes, California.

The 30-day trip to Thailand is part of Rotary’s Group Study Exchange. This international program fosters better understanding of cultures and business by sending teams to foreign countries. Rotary District 5260 hand-selected, trained, and paid for the team’s flight to Thailand. District 5260 includes portions of northern Los Angeles County, San Fernando Valley, Antelope Valley, and north 300 miles to the tiny resort town of Mammoth Lakes. GSE Team members were recommended by Rotarians from District 5260. After a rigorous application and interview process they were selected to attend the Thailand trip.

None of the members had ever visited Thailand before arriving in Bangkok on April 2nd. After a 22-hour flight through Tokyo, Japan and a two-day rest from jetlag at a monastery in Thaton, the team was ready to go on their whirlwind trip.

The Thailand hosts are members of Rotary District 3360, which includes such communities as Fang, Chiang Saen, Mae Chaen, Masai, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampoon, and Prahe. Local Thai members are opening up their homes, their resorts, and their hotels to their American guests. Once in Thailand all of the GSE Team’s meals, tours, and housing expenses are covered by their Thai Rotary hosts.

“The purpose of this trip is to share our common interests and unique differences in the Spirit of Rotary,” said Mr. Hofmann, who has published the weekly newspaper, Mammoth Times in his hometown of Mammoth Lakes since 1987. A staff of about 15 also produces tourist magazines that welcomes and informs visitors to the region that is located at the eastern gateway to Yosemite National Park.

“Our trip started out great and just gets better and better with each day,” added Mr. Hofmann. “We’re seeing and doing so many great things, such as shopping, visiting temples, enjoying spas and hot springs, eating some of the world’s best food, and even golfing!”

In two short but jam-packed weeks, the team has been hosted by a slew of Thai residents. In Chiang Mai they received friendly greetings from many residents and businesses, too many to mention because some would certainly be overlooked. They were guests of Dr. Sumin Prurgsiganont at Rhuam Path Hospital for two nights for accommodations while they adjusted to the new environment (not as patients!). They did stay in the homes of current Rotary Club of Chiang Mai Airport President Pinyo Duangcham, Past-president Choochart Nimsakul, Past-president Jurai Chamnan, Rotarian Chamnan Janruang, and Rotarian Chidwong Thanormthin.

The California guests toured the region with Rotarian Suparie Chatrkanyarat, a partner and tour guide for Sabai Holiday Tours.

Here’s a quick glance at the GSE’s itinerary in just one week while visiting Chiang Mai:

Saturday, April 12: Welcome dinner at Khum Khantoke Restaurant. Sampling Northern Thai style dinner by sitting on the floor and enjoying various dishes served on Khantoke - a round tray with a stand made of bamboo or teak. Menu: (appetizer is banana fritter) pork in tamarind and ginger curry, crispy vermicelli in sweet plum sauce, young chili paste dipped with boiled vegetables, crispy deep fried pork skin. All dishes served with sticky rice. Meal includes side dishes of saut้ed vegetables and fried chicken. Dessert is in-season fresh fruits and Kaotan - a deep fried, flat long grain rice with sugar cane.

Sunday, April 13: Got wet! Took part in the annual Songkran Festival. April 13-15 is a public holiday. Chiang Mai is the most popular place for this festival and is considered to be one of the world’s best festivals.

Monday April 14: Invitation lunch at Chaonang Coffee Shop with a delicious buffet at the Empress Hotel. Met with Past District Governor Dr. Supawat Poovakul, of the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai.

Tuesday, April 15: Met at the International Center, at Chiangmai University. Visited the Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center. Toured the Sankampang Handicraft Village, and visited Romtavin, the sa paper umbrella and bamboo fan-home industry. Had a fabulous buffet lunch at Bann Maitree Teakhouse Restaurant. Shopped at the Gems Gallery, the biggest jewelry factory in Thailand (a branch is in Pattaya, the most famous beach on the South East Thailand).

Wednesday, April 16: Visited the Doi Suthep Temple on Suthep Mountain (further up is the Winter Palace and Doi Pui Hill tribe village). Did more shopping at the Jade Factory! Golfed at Green Valley Country Club, a world class golf course designed by an American. Mr. Hofmann met Chiang Mai’s vice-governor. Ladies had lunch at the Hongteal Restaurant, and visited the Robinson and had their hair cut (just 200 baht included shampoo, cut, and drying!). Mr. Koegler visited a forest fire prevention station with Rotarian Chamnan.

Thursday, April 17: Visited Doi Intanon Mountain where the Royal Project is situated. Trout fish farm is one of the new successful projects. Intanon is the highest mountain in Thailand, about 7,500 feet above sea level. That evening enjoyed a farewell dinner at Hofbrauhaus German Restaurant. Then finished the evening off with, yes, more shopping at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar!

Friday, April 18: Travel to Lampang

The Rotary District 5260 Team to Northern Thailand includes: Lyle Koegler, a Los Angeles County Firefighter and Forester. This 26-year old native of California spent most of his childhood summers exploring the natural beauty and wonders of Tuolumne Meadows which is located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, at the northern edge of Yosemite National Park. “This is where I found my true calling to work in the great outdoors,” said Mr. Koegler. Eagle Scout training and a zest for life exudes from this rugged 6’4" man who likes to joke with his hosts “...and I’m looking for a wife!” (Sorry, ladies but he’s already taken!) His parents are both teachers for nine months of the year, which allows them the opportunity to work as Park Service Rangers at Yosemite during their summers off. Lyle is sponsored by his own hometown Crescenta Valley Rotary Club.

Stephanie Mines, 39, is the owner of Grizzley’s, an event planning service based in Montrose, California. Her interests revolve around small businesses and community service. “I am so impressed with the number of small businesses in Thailand,” said Ms. Mines. She is past president of the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce. And works tirelessly for several service groups that help with business development and important local youth needs. “In Thailand, I’ve had the pleasure to meet with chamber directors and many small business owners. There are so many good things happening in this country. It’s good to see government working to support small businesses. This truly is an amazing country of smart and savvy small business owners.” Ms. Mines also has the distinction of doing her best to improve the Thai economy. “I’ve bought more Thai goods for my business than I ever dreamed!” she said with a trademark chuckle. She is sponsored by the Glendale Rotary Club.

Saralyn Otter, 26, works as a Children’s Librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library System. The Los Feliz Branch, where she works full-time, has more than 45,000 books, 18 internet-capable computers, and a variety of programs for children, teens and adults. “Children come to the library for story times, art classes, or a magician’s performance,” explained Ms. Otter. “I also get to visit every grade school in our area at least once a year and tell the students about their local library.” She’s visited several libraries in Thailand on her journey with the GSE Team. “I’ve seen libraries at universities, vocational schools, and public libraries. Thailand’s really doing very good work in their libraries, especially with the kids programs and utilizing technology.” She represents the Universal City Rotary Club.

Shruti Shankar is a 26-year old graduate student at Cal State University Northridge working on a Masters degree in Public Administration. Her parents immigrated from India to the United States in the early ’70s. “Much like many Thai families, my extended family is very important to me,” said Ms. Shankar. Ms. Shankar was especially impressed with the quality of educational facilities and curriculum at Rajabaht Institute in Chiang Rai. “I might want to enroll!” she exclaimed to her team. She is the oldest of four children and lives with her family in Granada Hills, which is located at the northern-most edge of the San Fernando Valley. She is hosted by the North Hollywood Rotary Club.

The GSE Team’s trip to Thailand comes to a close on April 30 when they fly from Bangkok back to Los Angeles and return to their respective communities. They will be packing home boxes and bags of souvenirs, and storing many good memories from their trip. We have shared many wonderful experiences with Rotary Club members throughout District 5260,” said Team Leader Hofmann.

Each Rotary meeting in Thailand ends with the group, and often their Thai hosts, singing Walt Disney’s “It’s a Small World.” An exchange of cultures is clearly taking place, in the meetings and in the homes of their new-found Thai friends. Rotary International’s program has closed the gap between American’s and many other people around the globe. It truly is a small world after all.