HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Opening ceremony of Amazing Thai Local Wisdom Fair dazzles audience

To make Charan’s dream come true

Royal Project Doi Kham shop opened at Huay Luek Center

CMU and the BBC celebrate 10 years together

A photographic look at Danish research in Nan

Royal Lanna Rama 9 Park Lanna Prueksachart (Flora) Festival

Author asks for understanding of migrant workers

The Spiritual Journey of Vincent van Gogh

Opening ceremony of Amazing Thai Local Wisdom Fair dazzles audience

Marion Vogt
Photos Michael Vogt

Last weekend was a busy time in Chiang Mai when the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) organized the “Opening ceremony of Amazing Thai Local Wisdom Fair” at Khuang Thapae. The town was almost sealed off to make space for delegates from the APEC SME conference, their accompanying entourage, foreign media, and ministers from 21 countries.

Thapae Gate was beautifully decorated in Lanna style and a welcoming committee presented every guest with a handmade northern umbrella. The one question in everyone’s mind was, will it rain? Luckily this did not happen!

The two MCs, Miss Thailand 1992, a real Chiang Mai beauty and Appina Wattanakul asked the first guest of honor, the governor of Chiang Mai, Suwat Tantipat to address the delegates. He spoke on behalf of the whole Chiang Mai province and expressed how honored and pleased Chiang Mai felt to be chosen by the Royal Thai Government as the host of this convention. Finally Chiang Mai can show its potential in arranging international conferences and demonstrate its variety of natural resources, arts and culture, plus unique Lanna traditions. He also expressed his gratitude towards PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who unfortunately had to leave early, the government, TAT, the press, as well as the private sectors for their cooperation to make this happen.

Next speaker was Santichai Euachongprasit, TAT deputy governor for tourism products, who pointed out that the Amazing Thai Local Wisdom should be seen as an additional activity, based on the concept of the APEC SMEs. In harmony with the overall meetings, it publicizes the potential and uniqueness of Chiang Mai and the other 17 provinces in the north, and enhances Thailand’s image at all levels - economic, social, political and tourism.

He explained the three main zones of the fair - The Food Zone, representing Lanna Folk art and cuisine as an opportunity to test and sample local tasty food in traditional surroundings, the Craft Zone with demonstrations of traditional Lanna handicraft, and the Culture Zone which reflects the forms of dramatic arts and music.

Chadej Insawang, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, represented the Royal Thai Government in his opening address. After the overview of the significance to the APEC member countries and observers, he said that he hoped Chiang Mai is now seen as a province that can be a tourist hub. He gave thanks to the TAT and especially to Yaowapa Wongsawat, a parliamentary member from Chiang Mai who initiated the province’s Walking Street Project.

The evening featured spectacular demonstrations of Thai Lanna cultural dances, fireworks, a walk through the different zones of the fair, and ended with a sampling of food by the invited delegates in true kantoke style.

Relief that the rain stayed away shows
 in the faces of the hard working TAT organizing committee.

Mrs. Malinee Laorpunskul, Chiang Mai Provincial Governor’s Office, at the stalls with local Muang Food.

Chadej Insawang, permanent secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 
presents his welcoming address.

The invited guests were invited to sample traditional trays of food and 
‘old Lanna style’ local cigarettes.

200 Chiangmai dancers impressed the APEC SME meeting guests.

Everybody was honored that Chao Daungdeun na Chiang Mai (R) stayed 
the whole evening and spoke to all.

VIPs, delegates, organizers and
 dancers - everybody enthralled by fireworks.

The VIPs participated in the lighting
 of the 9 candles.

Beauty and art - art and beauty - handicraft, dance or musical art impressed the spectators.

‘Lanna Theatrical Arts’ Light and Sound Show.

Beauty and art - art and beauty - handicraft, dance or musical art impressed the spectators.

Beauty and art - art and beauty - handicraft, dance or musical art impressed the spectators. 

 Chadej Insawang, permanent secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, lights a candle carried in from dancers from the light and sound show.

Children performed Chinese cultural dances when the delegates arrived.

Another very festive evening during the APEC conference at the Westin Hotel with PM Thaksin Shinawatra presiding.

(Left) Santichai Euachongprasit, TAT deputy governor for tourism products with Miss Thailand 1992.

To make Charan’s dream come true

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut
Photos by
Nuttanee Thaveephol

Thailand’s best-known folk singer-songwriter was Charan Manopetch, a man who had a dream of establishing an art museum in Lamphun, to be called Hor Sin Sala Lao Luang. Unfortunately he died before this could be established, but a group of his friends have arranged for a concert to raise funds to make Charan’s dream come true.

The statue of Charan Manopetch in front of Sai Mok Kub Dok Mai Restaurant.

Tanes Charoenmuang, a project counselor, together with Singkaew Manopetch, Anya Phothiwat, and Chao Dararat Na Lamphun will promote the charity concert, “To Make Your Dream Come True in Memory of Charan Manopetch”, to raise funds to set up the art museum.

Anya Photiwat, Charan’s wife, said that besides creating northern Thai style music, Charan dreamed of building an art museum to conserve all forms of traditional northern style Thai art. Charan appreciated all northern Thai artistry including music, literature, and local crafts, so the proposed museum, Hor Sin Sala Lao Luang will be a place to conserve arts, and importantly, to expand the artistic knowledge of the general public.

Chan Upthong, Charan’s follower, performing one of his folksongs.

One of the project supporters, Chao Dararat na Lamphun, who donated eight rai of land in Tambon Ton Thong, Lamphun for construction of the museum, said that Charan had strong feelings for maintaining Lanna cultures; he wanted to preserve the ancestor’s wisdom, and strengthen the cultural pride of northern Thais. She hoped that the art museum might at least be the first step for local people to be aware of their cultural value.

Charan suffered from leukemia, and died aged 46 on September 3. He was named a National Artist in the performing arts by the National Culture Commission in 1997 and headed the Foundation for Lanna Artists, which produced Grassroots Theater about social issues in the north.

(From left) Chao Dararat na Lamphun, Anya Photiwat, Tanes Charoenmuang, and Singkeaw Manopetch combined to promote the charity concert.

The concert “To Make Your Dream Come True in Memory of Charan Manopetch” will be held on September 3 at Chiang Mai University Auditorium at 7 p.m. The tickets will cost 500, 200, and 100 baht. For more information contact the office of Hor Sin Sala Lao Luang project, or Sai Mok Kub Dok Mai Restaurant, tel. 053 357 605, 09 370-7605, and 01 764-3551.

The plan of the art museum, Hor Sin Sala Lao Luang, or a Place for Traditional Arts.

Royal Project Doi Kham shop opened at Huay Luek Center

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Doi Kham shop, under the supervision of the Royal Project, was officially opened on August 1 at the Huay Luek Development Center. His Serene Highness Prince Bhisadej Rajanee, the chairman of Royal Project Foundation, graciously presided over the grand opening.

Prince Bhisadej Rajanee, Royal Project Foundation chairman, officially opened the Doi Kham shop at Huay Luek Center.

After the opening, there were performances of Lanna dancing from Ban Mai Samakkhee villagers, and hill tribe dances from Hmong and Lahu tribes.

The Royal Project provided the budget to improve tourist attractions in Royal Project’s areas, and subsidized the multi purpose building, in which products from the Royal Project are displayed and tourist information is given.

Local staff of Doi Kham explaining tribal artifacts to tourists.

Deputy Prime Minster Suwit Kunkitti dropped by the center during his Chiang Mai visit and signed the guest book.

The Huay Luek Royal Project Development Center is located in Chiang Dao District Chiang Mai Province, about 95 km from town and approximately one and a half hours by car along the Chiang Mai-Fang road.

CMU and the BBC celebrate 10 years together

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai University’s Mass Communications Department in the Humanities Faculty and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) celebrated a 10-year association.

Dr. Sirikorn Maneerin (4th left), deputy education minister, and Stephen King (5th left), director of BBC World Service Trust, announce the 10th anniversary celebrations.

The ceremony was held with the welcome message presented by Assist Dr Niphon Tuwanon, president of CMU followed by Dr. Sirikorn Maneerin, deputy education minister, and Stephen King, director of the BBC World Service Trust.

Assist Prof Niphon Tuwanon (left), president of CMU, presents a memento to Stephen King marking the 10 year partnership.

The BBC has been broadcasting news via FM 100 MHz, CMU radio station everyday. The relationship between the BBC and CMU started ten years ago with the first dean of the humanities faculty, Prof M.L. Tui Chumsai na Ayudhaya.

Prof M.L. Tui and a group of teachers went to the United Kingdom and visited the BBC and the BBC assisted CMU by sending radio broadcasting specialists to train the students and officers in Chiang Mai.

Dr. Sirikorn signs the guestbook commemorating 10 years of partnership between the BBC and CMU.

In 1993, the BBC started satellite news broadcasts and chose CMU radio station to be a signal transmission center, so that Chiang Mai and neighboring provinces could hear live news broadcasts from London in the Thai language.

Dr. Sirikorn speaking at the opening ceremony.

A photographic look at Danish research in Nan

Metinee Chaikuna

Last week we ran a story about how Sacha Zurcher from Roskild University in Denmark chose Nan Province in northern Thailand as the subject for her Ph.D. studies. This week we will take a photographic look at what she found.

Sacha Zurcher (right) from Roskild University in Denmark sat with a Yao grandparent in La Baoya village while she was interviewing the hill tribe about their land use.

Researcher Sacha Zurcher (left) takes a photograph of sugar palm fruit a Hoh guide was showing her while they were surveying the forest near Nam Liang Village where the Hoh tribe lives.

Rice paddies and mountains make for a scenic view.

A popular activity in Kiu Muang Village at the beginning of the rainy season is collecting mushrooms in the village’s community forest. The village headman’s wife is shown here collecting a kind of mushroom that grows very well in the community forest.

Lua women in Parai Village walk back to their homes after getting rid of weeds in their upland rice field. The river they are walking across is the Nam Kwang stream, the main stream for the villagers.

Researcher Sacha Zurcher (right) takes a photograph of a type of tree found in a Kiu Muang Village multiple use forest.

The farmers in Kiu Muang village take a rest after planting corn in the upland.

Royal Lanna Rama 9 Park Lanna Prueksachart (Flora) Festival

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Though not many people visited the Lanna Prueksachart (Floral) Festival arranged August 9-13, many fantastic flowers and plants were presented.

Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor presided over the opening ceremony with many Chiang Mai VIPs including Chalermsak Suranant, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand, Region 1 Office and Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor.

There were many activities specially arranged for plant lovers, particularly the various plants such as cactus, orchids, and decorative plants. Several well-known restaurants in Chiang Mai also joined the festival by setting up stalls, creating small food festival from evening until late. This activity should have been an attraction to food lovers who wanted to enjoy dinner with stage performances and beautiful plants in the area.

Like other festivals, the beauty contest could not be ignored. This year’s Miss Lanna Prueksachart was Anchalee Dharmachart who received a 30,000 baht cash prize from Ornnadda Tantip, the president of Chiang Mai Provincial Red Cross.

The festival also included creative and imaginative flower arranging displays. Displays of cut flowers and living plants could be seen at every stall and other wonderful specimens of oriental horticulture included ornamental cactus, incredible bonsai trees and very colorful orchids were elegantly presented.

Perhaps next year the organizers might consider some pre-event publicity in the flower markets to attract a better crowd.

Author asks for understanding of migrant workers

Book launched to highlight plight

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Friends Without Borders arranged the launch, at Wat Koo Tao Chiang Mai, of the book “In Search of Sunlight,” the story of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, written by Pornsuk ‘Pim’ Koetsawang.

Pornsuk ‘Pim’ Koetsawang, the author of In Search of Sunlight.

The book deals with the various ethnic groups from Burma who have come to seek ‘a better life,’ which does not mean only a comfortable or a luxurious one, in Thailand. The book claims that it represents the background, the dreams and hopes, and the sufferings that people from Burma have faced in Thailand. For many, flight to Thailand has become a savior, not just to earn money on which to live, but merely to survive.

On the Thai side of the border, the book says that some have faced almost equally repressive working and living conditions and an uncaring Thai government that has vacillated in its official attitude towards migrant workers. The journey to the new country too, is fraught with dangers, dishonesty and double-dealings, much of it from Thai and Burmese government officials and private entrepreneurs alike.

The author said that in general Thais see Burmese migrant workers as the enemy who came to Thailand and being troublemakers from the past until the present. But in fact, the book portrays the migrant workers as not the ones who created trouble, they suffered from maltreatment both physically and mentally. They did not want to leave their homeland, but they had to go. They did not want to be stigmatized as enemy, but they had to accept. And neither the Burmese nor Thai governments protect them even in the judicial proceedings.

News of the murders of migrant workers in Mae Sot, Tak Province presents another side of Thai society - full of violence, but where Burmese migrant workers are passive, said author Pim.

Pornsuk ‘Pim’ Koetsawang is an active human rights worker. She used to work for Friends Without Borders, a project to promote positive relations between Thai and Burmese people. Her wish is for this book to tell people the stories of suffering, hope, courage, and self-respect of the people who are called ‘migrant workers.’

The Spiritual Journey of Vincent van Gogh

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing

Marion Vogt

Vincent Van Gogh was the interesting subject of an erudite paper presented by the very interesting Professor James C. Harris, Professor of Psychiatry from the John Hopkins University who has lived in Isaan, speaks, reads and writes Thai and in his younger days, volunteered to go to the Vietnam conflict as a physician. The address was given at Payap University during the Globalization of Religion seminars.

On 15 May 1990 “The Portrait of Doctor Gachet” was sold within three minutes for $82.5 million.

According to Professor Harris, Vincent Van Gogh was one of the most significant spiritual figures of the nineteenth century. An artist who deserves the attention of modern theologians interested in inter-religious dialogue, Vincent seeks to lead us to a new way of seeing and a change of heart. While viewing his works, we can trace his engagement with Christian and Buddhist themes. “Works of art may touch the depth of the human spirit. Through his art we will consider consolation and reverence for life as critical in an age of globalization, he said.

Vincent van Gogh descended from a family of ministers and art dealers. From ages 16-22 he was apprenticed to an art dealer; however, when he was 20 a religious transformation began, following personal crises, leading to continuous bible study and eventually job loss. At 25 he began, then abandoned, theology studies, to become an evangelist, later being dismissed from his evangelical assignment in Belgium for excessive zeal in the “imitation of Christ”. It was only after this, at the age of 27 years of age he decided to become an artist.

He spent time with his family in Etten and painted the endless cycle of work in the fields, sowing, repairing, and plowing. At 29 years of age he decided to study arts and moved from Etten to The Hague. He wanted to draw, to touch people’s hearts and sorrow was a small beginning for him. At age 32, after his father’s sudden death, he painted his father’s bible, his most important possession, opened at Isaiah 53, the “Suffering Servant.”

It was during his years in Nuenen that Van Gogh emerged as a truly great artist. The Potato Eater (1885), his first great painting, used De Groux’s painting Grace for inspiration. Never had respect for the labor of the poor been so imaginatively conveyed to the viewer, “painting the people as they really are.”

Vincent wrote, “I have tried to emphasize that these people, eating their potatoes in the lamplight, have dug the earth with those very hands they put in the dish, so it speaks of manual labor and how they have honestly earned their food.”

In 1886, at age 33, Vincent went to Paris and he sought to emulate the spirit and form of Japonisme which is the influence of Japan on western art. He began to paint sunflowers in Paris and reached fruition in Arles decorating the yellow house in preparation for Gauguin’s arrival.

The relationship between Vincent and Gauguin deteriorated throughout the year. Their heated arguments became more and more frequent. On 23 December, Vincent van Gogh, in an apparent delirium, mutilated the lower portion of his left ear. He severed the lobe with a razor, wrapped it in cloth and then took it to a brothel and presented it to one of the women there.

Finally, at the age of 36, Vincent voluntarily admitted himself to the Hospital of St. Paul in St. Remy on May 8, 1889, and remained there for a year. He probably suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, as well as a mood disorder, aggravated by stress and exacerbated by chronic use of absinthe, brandy, turpentine and camphor.

When he died, all his last canvasses were hung on the walls of the room where the body lay, forming a kind of halo around him - the splendor of his genius radiated from them.

It was a most informative paper from Professor Harris with much insight into how art has influenced religion and vice versa. Professor Harris showed that globalization of religion is not an invention of our century but was practiced long before our times.