HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chao Dara Rassamee, Chiang Mai’s Royal Consort is remembered

The rock carvings of Wat Pha Ngam

Wing 41 receives its annual assessment

Wing 41 presents honorary paratrooper badges

Dilemmas in anti-trafficking operations Part 3

Introducing Chiang Mai’s Property Market to the world

Hong Kong Property Exhibition to see new products

Budding scientists experiment for prizes at CMU Science Faculty science project contest

Angkhang Nature Resort

Chao Dara Rassamee, Chiang Mai’s Royal Consort is remembered

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Chulalongkorn University and Dara Phirom Royal Mansion organized a special event for the 130-year anniversary of the birth of Chao Dara Rassamee, a royal consort of King Rama V. This was held at Dara Phirom Royal Mansion in the Dara Rassamee 33rd Border Patrol Police Headquarters in Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai. Chao Wongsak na Chiang Mai presided over the opening ceremony at Dara Phirom Museum.

The statue of Chao Dara Rassamee placed in the area of Dara Phirom Royal Mansion in Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai.

Chao Dara Rassamee was a daughter of King Intra Wichayanont, the 7th king of Chiang Mai, and was born on August 26, 1873. When she was 11 years old, she was formally betrothed to Crown Prince Chulalongkorn (later to become Rama V). When she was 13, she traveled with her father to Bangkok, where she received the great honor of having her topknot ceremoniously cut by her future father-in-law, King Mongkut (Rama IV). She was then officially presented to King Rama V in Royal matrimony with the duty as overseer of internal palace affairs.

Chao Dara Rassamee, a royal consort of King Rama V.

The significance of Chao Dara Rassamee’s betrothal to King Rama V and her position as overseer of internal palace affairs during his reign is significant. As the daughter of the king of Chiang Mai and princess of Lanna Kingdom, her betrothal and marriage marked the merging of the two ancient kingdoms, Siam and Lanna.

Chao Dara Rassamee became a highly respected royal consort and cultural representative of the Lanna Kingdom. Unlike other women with short hair following the central Thai style, Chao Dara Rassamee wore her hair long and dressed in traditional northern Thai style wearing a phasin (long skirt).

Chao Wongsak na Chiang Mai pays respect to Chao Dara Rassamee.

After the death of King Rama V she remained at Dusit Palace after the crowning of King Vajiravuth (King Rama VI) for another five years but then asked for permission of the King to return to Chiang Mai.

In Chiang Mai, Chao Dara Rassamee spent her time at the Dara Phirom Royal Mansion and was involved in promotion of agriculture, culture, and arts. She also provided support to Buddhism and was a major influence in developing Lanna handicrafts. She had her own experimental farm called “Suan Jao Sabuy,” helping farmers in the North. She started planting a new species of roses, which she had obtained from the England Rose Club, of which she was an avid member. Her favorite species of rose was a large pink one with a strong fragrance. She named the rose in memory of her royal husband, “Chulalongkorn.” Unfortunately, at the age of 60, Chao Dara Rassamee died of lung disease.

A woman pays her respects to the statue of Chao Dara Rassamee at Dara Phirom Royal Mansion.

After her death, Chulalongkorn University supervised the royal mansion, and has launched a project to restore the magnificent Dara Phirom Royal Mansion to its original condition. The project also involves the establishment of a museum to commemorate the ingenuity and contributions of Chao Dara Rassamee to the Lanna Kingdom.

Chamnong Saengwichian, the president of the Dara Phirom project, stated that Chao Dara Rassamee was the King’s favorite concubine not only because she was very charming but also because she was instrumental in creating a good relationship between the Chakri dynasty of Siam and the Lanna dynasty in the North.

Chulalongkorn University has worked with members of the Royal Lanna family to collect various items which Chao Dara Rassamee used during her life. They were able to recover some 270 pieces of furniture, decorative, and personal effects of Chao Dara Rassamee which are now on display, showing the typical royal mansion decor at that time.

The Dara Phirom Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

The rock carvings of Wat Pha Ngam

by Steve Rhodes

At the age of thirty-six, Pra Worapoj Chaiwut is the youngest abbot in the amphur of Maetang, about fifty kilometers from Chiang Mai. He is also one of the most respected due to his deep commitment to the community that he serves.

Pra Worapoj Chaiwut in front of the large carving of the reclining Buddha on the reverse side of the rock.

The story of his meteoric rise began in 1987 when he was invited by the people of Pang Yang Village to be the interim abbot of their local temple, Wat Pha Ngam. He was only twenty years old, having served five years as a novice at Wat Lamchang in Chiang Mai. It was a quantum leap from novice to abbot in such a short space of time and he had no idea of some of the daunting tasks that lay ahead of him.

A closer view of the rock. The image on the right hand side of the rock is that of Buddha resting while being fanned by one of his followers.

Maetang Village is a sleepy little place that feels as if it is centuries removed from the present day. It is, in fact, actually over one hundred years old. There are no telephone lines in the valley, although there is electricity. Living here is like living in a time warp. It’s just a small village in a valley consisting of about twenty-five lychee farms, a couple of noodle shops, and the temple. It’s surrounded by beautiful mountainous, mist-shrouded rain forest. There is an experimental tea plantation at the top of the mountain, a cold climate plant nursery, and a few hill tribe villages.

Pra Worapoj Chaiwut posing in front of the rock. Just behind him are the four blank spaces waiting to be filled. They are presently marked in white paint awaiting the return of Nha Sing Kam who has mysteriously vanished without trace.

The name Pang Yang in Thai means a group stopover point. Some old timers in the village recall that the road through the village was once used by King Naraesuen who led his troops into battle with the Burmese at Chang Dow, forty kilometers away, and paused for rest and refreshment where the village now stands.

Buddha’s footprint, which is 1.2 meters long & 79 centimeters wide.

When Pra Worapoj agreed to accept the villagers’ invitation, the temple was a small, temporary, makeshift affair housing a small population of temporary monks.

During the renovations and reconstruction of the existing temple an interesting phenomenon came to light. They discovered a huge rock at the back of the temple measuring twelve meters by ten meters, although Pra Worapoj thinks that this is only the tip of the iceberg. He estimates that at least three quarters of it remain buried.

An angel offering a flower to Buddha.

When he spoke to some of the old people in the village, some interesting stories emerged. The people told him that it was a holy rock inhabited by spirits. Back in the old days they would come and pay respect to it. If you were sick you would bring a small container of water with you and pray in front of it. The power emanating from the rock would transform the water into holy water which would cure ailments ranging from headaches to labor pains, allowing one to give birth easily.

Some people claim to have won the lottery by praying to the rock, but before you get too excited and rush off to Wat Pha Ngam in the hope of gaining instant riches, Pra Worapoj emphasizes that these people were simply going through a lucky phase in their lives and were destined to win the lottery anyway. The spirits of the rock will not help people win the lottery.

Further questioning brought forth even more interesting tales. Some of the older residents who are now in their eighties and nineties, told him that there was once a secret doorway leading to a cave beneath the rock and villagers would go in there to borrow bells, gongs and jewelry used in ceremonies. However not all of them were conscientious in returning the borrowed items so the spirits punished them by sealing the cave and it’s remained closed to this day. Despite much searching there is no sign of where the door was once located. However, some of the borrowed articles have been retrieved, dug up by farmers working on their land.

After listening to these stories Pra Worapoj decided that the rock should be decorated in a manner befitting it’s true status and turned into a decorative feature of the temple gardens. So he tracked down a master stone carver, a former monk named Nha Sing Kam, who created the beautiful images on it over a period of seven months and fifteen days, at a cost of 550,000 baht. They tell the story of how the Buddha once came and visited the rock, pausing to rest for a while during his extensive travels through Thailand. He can be seen resting on the right hand side of the rock being fanned by one of his followers. According to Pra Worapoj, this illustration is unique as the Buddha has never been depicted in this position before.

Another carving shows his footprint which measures 1.2 meters by 79 centimeters. To the left of this is an angel bearing a floral offering from Heaven. On the other side of the rock is an impressive carving of a reclining Buddha which takes up most of the rock’s surface.

However, there are four blank spaces yet to be filled. They are presently marked in white paint awaiting the return of Nha Sing Kam who has mysteriously vanished without trace, leaving Pra Worapoj in a bit of a dilemma. He had hoped to have the work completed in time for a spectacular Pi Thi Te Thong Luh Pra ceremony that he is staging on the 4th of September, which will be attended by one hundred and fifty six monks from all over Thailand. One of the highlights of the day will be the construction of a Buddha image out of molten brass by he and his monks. This will be their first attempt at such a venture even though, in all his years in the monk hood, he has contributed nearly 500 Buddha statues to other temples. However, all of these were donated by his followers and were bought from factories. The statue which they are making on the 4th of September was commissioned by a devotee who will donate it back to the temple where it will be placed in the temple’s church, which is still under construction itself.

Although he is slightly disappointed that the rock carvings will not be completed in time for the ceremony, he and the monks will touch up some of the carvings that are showing signs of wear and tear with gold paint, and apply a layer of protective varnish to them.

His ultimate ambition, however, is to have the four remaining blank spaces carved and all the images covered with gold leaf, rather than paint. A roof would then have to be constructed to protect them from the elements. The cost of this has been estimated at four and a half million baht and would take an additional eight months to finish.

But the real cherry on top of Pra Worapoj’s cake is his vision of one hundred and nine Buddha statues surrounding the rock as silent guardians. This could be Thailand’s answer to the clay soldiers of Xian in China and would be an impressive spectacle indeed. However, it also comes at an impressive price, an additional two point five million baht.

To reach Wat Pha Ngam, take the road out of Chiang Mai through Mae Rim and turn left at Mamalai market. Proceed on to the village of Soperg and turn right. You are now on the road to Pang Yang and Wat Pha Ngam.

Visitors are more than welcome to take a look at the rock. There is no admission fee but needless to say, all donations would be greatly appreciated as they would help Pra Worapoj achieve his vision splendid which would truly be a sight to behold and would certainly be a unique tourist attraction for North Thailand.

Wing 41 receives its annual assessment

Text by Metinee Chaikuna
Photos by Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Every year, the Ground Security Forces in Wing 41 are assessed by the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) from Bangkok. This year, Group Captain Surajit Suwanatat, the commander of the Royal Ground Security Force and his officers arrived for the military exercise assessing Wing 41’s military preparations and the unit defense standards.

Group Captain Surajit Suwanatat, the Commander of Ground Royal Security Force presided over the military exercise.

The result of the military exercise standard was good. There were 417 Ground Security Force officers who were examined to demonstrate their knowledge of procedures and equipment, including grenades and firearms.

The Wing 41 assessment is so that the Royal Thai Air Force can demonstrate its ability to handle any crisis situation, including invasion.

Ground Security Force officers dial in the mortar launcher.

A Ground Security Force officer checks his firearm.

417 officers attended the exercise.

Ground Security Forces make advances towards the operation team station.


Wing 41 presents honorary paratrooper badges

For the past 20 years Wing 41 has made honorary paratroopers of people who have assisted the wing in the past year. This year, the Commander of Wing 41, Group Captain Arnont Jarayaphan continued that great tradition.

The Commander of Wing 41 Group, Captain Arnont Jarayaphan (L) presents an honorary paratrooper insignia.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the people who receive the honor should have finished the Air Force parachuting course, or are members of the Air Force parachuting club, and have passed the technical examination in the Air Force parachuting division, or people who support the parachuting activities in the Air Force.

The Commander of Wing 41 Group, Captain Arnont Jarayaphan (R) presents honorary paratrooper insignias to deserving recipients.

Dilemmas in anti-trafficking operations Part 3

Rescuing the right people - and respecting their rights

Constanze Ruprecht

A raid took place in Chiang Mai four months ago. The target was the karaoke bar Baan Rom Yen, where a large number of women were employed as sex workers, apparently including trafficked women and minors. As usual, the local media reported the event from the perspective of the “raiders.” The women and girls were portrayed as law-breakers or hapless victims. For the past two weeks we’ve taken an in depth look at the situation, and today’s instalment is the last of the three part series…

The controversy emerging from this one event only emphasizes the complexity of the interlinked issues of trafficking, prostitution, inconsistent legislation and corrupt law enforcement.

Everyone involved must recognise that the “target groups” of such raids are not merely numbers, but individual women and girls. They are people under immense emotional pressure, living in an atmosphere of stress and danger.

Even those who willingly engage in sex work are well aware of the stigma attached to this work. Yet they, too, are human beings who have for whatever reasons chosen prostitution as the best way to support themselves. We must respect them for who they are. This of course includes the women and, above all, children who are violently forced into the trade.

At worst demonised, at best pitied, it is they who bear the brunt of the public’s negative attention. The mostly male clients, pimps, agents, brothel owners, corrupt officials and police usually remain inexplicably “clean” and free to pursue their profitable “business.”

An organisation like EMPOWER acknowledges that these women, as humans and workers, have certain rights that must be protected. For this the group has earned - deservedly so - the trust of a growing number of women working in the entertainment industry in Chiang Mai. This trust, and hopefully the vocalised needs that come with it, should be used as the foundation for future action.

EMPOWER takes an important step in the right direction by addressing the problem of the Thai prostitution law. This law states that prostitution is an illegal practice, yet countless loopholes allow the issue of illegality to be sidestepped.

Meanwhile, EMPOWER points out that the women engaged in the entertainment industry as waitresses, bar girls, dancers, etc., do “real” work and should therefore have the same rights as employees of other businesses. They should receive fair remuneration as well as protection from harassment and violence.

The TRAFCORD network of groups form a necessary part of the equation. They concentrate on the steps leading up to the point where the women begin work.

Khun Suriya, who has spent years championing children’s rights, is obviously sincere when it comes to acting upon the plight of trafficked women and minors. “TRAFCORD by no means focuses only on rescue missions. An important aspect of our work is prevention. We organise awareness campaigns that include information dissemination and also offer training to police units. Of course we have a very small core office, but we are fortunate to benefit from our large team of affiliated organisations.”

Both flaws and successes in operations like the raid on Baan Rom Yen must be identified and discussed. This goes both ways. It is imperative that like-minded organisations remain open to new ideas and criticism. These must be used to build on what slow progress has been made. It is all the more important if the organisations’ objectives are the same - even if the strategies to realise them differ.

It would be tragic if groups fighting for women and children’s rights have to concede victory to that sector in society that profits from their victimisation.

What counts is preventing women and children from becoming victims in the first place.

Introducing Chiang Mai’s Property Market to the world

At the Thailand Property Exhibition in Hong Kong

(Press Release) The booming property parket in Thailand will have another promotional hit as the Thailand Property Exhibition will take place at the Hong Kong Convention Center this month. For the second year the exhibition will feature Phuket and Samui and for the first time introducing Chiang Mai.

Visitors register at last year’s exhibition in Hong Kong.

Chiang Mai’s leading real estate agent Domi Duca Asia Co., Ltd. will be sole exhibitor from the north of Thailand. The company will be participating in co-operation with CAT Real Estate. Domi Duca Asia is well known to be the market leader in exclusive property and representing properties with prices ranging from baht 5 M (USD 125.000 and up) to baht 200 M. (USD 5 M.)

The company will introduce two new developments from Chiang Mai: Wiang Chat, the 5 star hotel, resort and spa project in San Kamphaeng with 8 luxury residence villas and The Hill 5, a high-end market condominium project. Exclusive private properties represented in Hong Kong, among others, are the Twelve Gables and Baan Lanna. Phuket and Samui will be represented by famous development and real estate companies as Cabana Grand View, Coconut L&H Group and the Laguna Group.

The exhibition will take place on September 12 - 13 and 14, 2003 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. Exhibition venue rooms: 401 - 402 - 403. Domi Duca Asia at Exhibition Room 401, Stand nr D 4.

For information please contact by email: [email protected] asia.com. Visit our website at www.domiducaasia.com, Telephone:+ 66 (0) 6193 8447, Fax:+ 66 (0) 5340 4143

Hong Kong Property Exhibition to see new products

(Press Release) The 2003 Phuket & Samui Property Exhibition in Hong Kong is seeing a range of new products on show from the property market, and the 2003 exhibition will introduce Chiang Mai.

Lifestyle is on display, with Sunsail Yacht Charter promoting investment in yachts, now a good investment with the imminent abolition of import taxes. Bangkok Phuket Hospital will again attend and offer visitors and exhibitors a special benefits card for services at the hospital. Phuket Health and Travel, the company attending the exhibition from Bangkok Phuket Hospital will concentrate on promoting the theme of special health services offered in Thailand at very favourable rates compared to western countries. These services include dental care, hip replacements, plastic surgery and many other services catering for in their own terms, ‘non sick patients.’

Thai Consul General to Hong Kong, Khun Sehasak with Suphaporn Limsakul of Samui International Hospital and John Everingham, publisher of Phuket Magazine and Asia Pacific Tropical Homes brought forth the positive property developments in Thailand at last years’ exhibition.

Dulwich College attends, international education such as is provided by Dulwich is an influential factor in investing in a home in Phuket.

International law firms have joined the exhibition this year, with issues relating to illegal land ownership receiving considerable media attention over the past few months. It is intended to hold some small seminars, to allow interested parties to find out the pros and cons of buying property in Thailand.

Once again Samui developers have a strong presence at the exhibition with new luxury villa projects such as Frangipani Bay and Grand View Villas joining other developers who attended the exhibition in 2002, such as Coconut Land & House, Samui Peninsular and others.

Chiang Mai will be represented by Domi Duca Asia Ltd, a brokerage who will be involved directly in a new development next year.

Few exhibitors from last year’s exhibition are not attending this year, Royal Phuket Marina are undergoing a redesign and plan to be back in the market near the end of 2003. New projects exhibiting include the luxury villa project at Bang Tao, Maan Tawaan, Villa Santi at Kalim with spectacular views overlooking Patong Bay, the luxury apartment development The Breakers at Kata, The Plantation, a Pacvest development of villas and apartments at Kamala Beach, Sri Panwa, a new project at Cape Panwa marketed by CB Richard Ellis, Crystal Lakes at Loch Palm Golf Club marketed by Knights Frank and Pavilion Private Villas at Layan Beach. Layan Estate, who attended last year’s exhibition and sold property at the exhibition will be there again.

According to several developers, enquiries from the Hong Kong market are higher than ever. “We’ve had more emails and calls from Hong Kong in the past two months than the first six months of the year,” says Paul Moorhouse, developer of Lakewood Villas. “It seems that Phuket is being considered as a desirable place to invest more and more.”

Once again the exhibition will be opened by the Thailand Consul-General to Hong Kong and attended by the new president of the Phuket Tourist Association, Khun Pattanapong Aikwanich.

Budding scientists experiment for prizes at CMU Science Faculty science project contest

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai University organized a science project contest to encourage students to create scientific experiments and give the future Einsteins an opportunity to exchange ideas, acknowledge each other’s creations and experiment with science. It was divided into 3 groups, a physics project, a biology project, and an innovational approach from an applied science project.

President of Chiang Mai University, Assist Prof Dr Niphon Tuwanont (R) and Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat (L) cut the ribbon together.

The president of CMU, Assist Prof Dr Niphon Tuwanont, held the opening ceremony with many VIP guests and many teams from eight northern provinces; Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Phrae and Nan.

Students were interested in this experimental model demonstrated by the Science Faculty students.

Judging took place on the final day at the science building.

The winning physics project in the secondary school went to Pong San Thong Wittaya School from Lampang and Hong Son Suksa School; Mae Hong Son, won the high school level.

Taweechai Tansenee, from the British Council (L), Honorary British Consul David Hopkinson (2L), the Science Faculty dean’s secretary, and Suriyan Maneechote from the British Council (R) during the opening ceremony.

In a biology project, Fang Chanoophatham was the secondary school winner and Kawila Wittayalai School, Chiang Mai, won both first prize and certificates from the faculty.

David Hopkinson, British Honorary Consul, presented a portrait of the King Rama IV, the father of Thai Science.

Ban Ta Lad Khi Lek School, a Chiang Mai secondary school and Pai Wittayakarn School from Mae Hong Son, won the first prizes in the applied science project.

Awards for the best scientists in 2003 was also given to Assoc Prof Dr Somsorn Singkharat as an honorary nuclear scientist; Dr Jaroon Chakmanee as new generation scientist, and Prof Dr Tawee Tankasiri as the most outstanding lecturer in science and technology.

A future scientist does her experiments.

Angkhang Nature Resort

A comfortable three hour drive from Chiang Mai city

Phitsanu Thepthong

Is Angkhang Nature Resort the ideal getaway for nature lovers? Yes, according to the GM, Makoo Techasopon, its Doi Angkhang Mountain location, cool climate and the scenic beauty of the surrounding countryside have made it so popular.

General Manager Makoo Techasopon of Angkhang Nature Resort, center, talks to a teacher and student at the hilltribe village of Ban Khobdong, a black Lahu village.

The resort embodies eco-tourism in that it is fully integrated with the environment and the hill tribe people, while at the same time encouraging the indigenous people to maximise their agricultural production potential with assistance from the Royal Project.

This group of nature lovers readies for their hands on nature study trek.

In fact, the resort is intimately bound to the Royal Project, with the revenues generated from the resort being progressively shared between the Royal Project and the management group from the Amari Hotels and Resorts.

A nursery of deciduous vegetables and plants.

The Angkhang agricultural station was set up in 1969 under the auspices of His Majesty King Bhumibol. This was primarily as a research center that focused on developing a wider variety of marketable produce for local hill tribes which were previously dependent on growing the illegal opium crop as their major source of income.

General Manager Makoo, right, chats with Cha Mor, the head of black Lahu hill tribes at Ban Khobdong, inside his Chamor’s Lahu-style house.

The organic methods employed by the Project have had great success. Western berries, for example, thrive in the cool, mountain climate. The overseer of the project His Serene Highness, Prince Bhisadej Rajani said, “The station is a prime example of man working with nature instead of against her.”

Palong hill tribe woman works in the Royal Project’s Angkhang agricultural research and development plantation.

The mountain resort has been promoted as a tourism spot by Royal Project Foundation, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand. It is about 25 kms away from Fang district town, along the highway No 1429, starting at Wat Ban Mae Ngorn, Tambon Mae Ngorn, Fang district. There is a narrow load leading to the mountain, which after driving for around 30 minutes, Ban Koom comes into view, where the Angkhang Nature Resort is located on the top of the mountain, more than 2,000 meters above sea level.

The Royal Project’s Angkhang Royal Agricultural research and development plantation.

Angkhang has 74 units, located in the 20,000 rai of land in the Royal Project. In the region there is a health center and a police station, to provide tourist services and assistance if needed. For the management group, running such a resort in concert with the Royal Project, is an honour, and as such they have to maintain the highest standards possible.

Ban Khobdong, a black Lahu village in the Doi Angkhang Mountain.

Nature is everywhere; you can enjoy jungle treks, bird watching, mountain biking, mule riding or the quite contemplation of life on Doi Angkhang. The Angkhang mountain area is really a repository of natural treasures. The invigorating mountain air, the fresh cool climate, the breathtaking scenery and the stillness of the countryside all make for a rejuvenating break from the city. It is another choice for tourists to visit and stay overnight in the mountain resort in Fang district bordering Thailand and Burma.

General Manager Makoo, right, and teachers, center, teach hilltribe students at Ban Khobdong, the black Lahu village.

For more information please contact: Angkhang Nature Resort, 1/1 Moo 5,Ban Koom, Tambon Mae Ngorn, Fang District, Chiang Mai 50320, tel. (053) 450110-19, Fax (053) 450120, email: [email protected] amari.com, website: http://www.amari.com

A view of black Lahu village of Ban Khobdong in the Angkhang mountain valley, about 160 km north of Chiang Mai City.

Japanese lamp flowers on Doi Angkhang.

A beautiful bird of paradise flower at the mountain resort.

English roses in the garden.