HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai mayor expecting 300 mio tourist baht over Yee Peng

One stop OTOP shop for Chiang Mai

45 northern woven cloths through to finals of Thai silk and Thai textile contest

The Royal Project aims at international market

Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces combine on tourism promotion

Lampang PAO behind 36th Agricultural Fair

Pandas on CCTV help draw crowds to Chiang Mai Zoo

Lanterns and krathongs festive celebrations planned for Phayao

Ban Suntisuk Hydro-electric plant officially launched

Chiang Mai Municipality to hold Yee Peng (Loy Krathong) Festival

Tourism businesses told to work together

Mae Hong Son creates roadmap on tourism strategies

Royal Project and Northern Agriculture Day to kick off in December

Two new roads linking Chiang Mai and Lamphun underway

Sportron International refute FDA ban

Flesh trade busted behind noodle shop in Chiang Rai

Police stop armed man claiming he was military intelligence

CMU students to quit alcohol and cigarettes for King Rama V

Pha Muang Task Force raided border village

Chiang Mai Police set up safety plan and counter measures for Yee Peng

Off-road Family Rally 2003 scheduled for December 6 - 7

Chiang Mai mayor expecting 300 mio tourist baht over Yee Peng

Pandas could make first public showing during the festival

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn says this year’s Yee Peng (Loy Krathong) festival would be better than ever, and expects a 20 percent increase in visitor numbers. As a result, he expects more revenue will come to the city during the festival.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand, Northern Office, Region 1 has also contacted other countries, such as Malaysia, Korea, Japan and Singapore, inviting them to join and publicize this colorful event.

Chiang Mai Municipality is prepared to host the Yee Peng festival from November 7-9, featuring activities such as a Miss Nang Noppamas beauty contest, a local instrument band and orchestra and a Lanna Yee Peng Festival show.

Mayor Boonlert said that highlights of this year’s festival would be a huge fireworks display in the shape of a heart representing the warm welcome by Chiang Mai residents for all tourists and visitors.

“I believe that with everything that has happened this year, especially the coming of the giant pandas, this will bring many tourists to visit Chiang Mai. I will make sure that the pandas would be ready for the first public showing during the festival,” he said. Both pandas are busy making their Krathongs to float down the Ping River.

One stop OTOP shop for Chiang Mai

256 booths - thousands of good quality products

In response to the increasing demand for One Tambon One Product (OTOP) goods, Chiang Mai provincial authorities opened the first OTOP Center in the country, on an area of 40 rai at Mae Jo Plaza, with 256 booths and thousands of good quality products. This center aims to give manufacturers a new channel to distribute their products, increasing their income as well as boosting Chiang Mai’s economy.

Some of the many five-star OTOP products at the OTOP Center.

The grand opening was presided over by Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat, and featured an OTOP contest, folk songs, a colorful parade and local a Khantoke dinner.

“I believe this center will help our local residents earn more money, relieving poverty, as well as persuading people from other provinces to stop by and do some shopping, which will boost our economy,” Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Thongchai Wongrianthong said at the OTOP center opening. He added that last year Chiang Mai OTOP products brought in 600 million baht and this year the target was 800 million.

Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Thongchai Wongrianthong believes that the Chiang Mai OTOP Center will boost Chiang Mai’s economy.

Somchai Auevongchai, Mae Jo Plaza acting managing director, said that the local government chose this spot because it has a good location, having many souvenir stores nearby and with convenient car parking spaces. They have also been given local government rent and electricity privileges during the three year contract.

45 northern woven cloths through to finals of Thai silk and Thai textile contest

“Thai silk and Textile Contest in International Style 2003”

The “Thai silk and Textile Contest in International Style 2003” first round was held at Imperial Mae Ping Hotel Chiang Mai, to present the potential of Thai products and to show the quality of the products for the export market.

Jintana Punthufak, Public Relations Department director, said that northern Thailand is famous for its indigenous textiles and said, “We should use this fact to promote Thai designed clothing.”

In the first round of the contest, there were more than 200 northern textiles judged and 10 Thai silk and 35 cotton cloths went through to the final round to be held at Phaya Thai Palace in Bangkok. The winner of the contest will receive 100,000 baht and a trophy from Dr Thaksin Shinawatra, the Prime Minister of Thailand.

The Royal Project aims at international market

Organically grown pure foodstuffs the key

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

The Royal Project Foundation is preparing to step up their farms and products, looking for worldwide recognition to be in line with next year’s policy of food purity.

With the push towards organically grown produce, the Royal Project Foundation sees an appropriate channel to export their products by ensuring their quality is certified by international organizations and standards.

Suthat Plempanya, Royal Project Development Chief Officer announced the Royal Project will enter into the international market.

“We have planned that by next year, we will be getting ready for export, beginning with many kinds of vegetables. Importantly, it means that all of our products can be traced back to their origins,” said Suthat Plempanya, Royal Project Development Chief Officer.

He added that the bilateral free trade agreement with China which began on October 1 this year should not be a problem for their exports and claimed that our products have a better quality.

In addition, the Royal Project Foundation has prepared its community for the last two years to be actively involved with incoming tourists, supporting all kinds of handicrafts, setting up a new tourism plan specifically in eco-tourism and arranging seminars for local tourist guides.

Last year, the Royal Project Foundation received more than 600,000 visitors.

Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces combine on tourism promotion

Open Chiang Rai Local Culture and Tradition Center

Chiang Rai Municipality has built a Chiang Rai Local Culture and Tradition Center fully supported in a joint tourism cooperation venture between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

The grand opening was held on October 22, with Chiang Mai MP Yaowapa Wongsawas presiding at the Chiang Rai Local Culture and Tradition Center, which is hoped will boost Chiang Rai tourism.

MP Yaowapa said that construction of this center showed good forward vision, offering employment for local residents and charity associations as well as being a new tourist attraction for visitors to the province.

She added that the government was ready to back such joint tourism ventures between neighbouring provinces, with the concept being the preservation of the old culture, which has been gradually disappearing.

The activities inside the center include selling local products and souvenirs, traditional Thai massage, local traditional shows and many educational exhibits as well as food and refreshments for the general public.

Lampang PAO behind 36th Agricultural Fair

Governor ask farmers to grow more jasmine rice

Lampang Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) arranged the 36th Agricultural Fair to exhibit agricultural production and sell processed agricultural products at Thip Chang Lampang Hotel.

Lampang Governor Amornthat Nirattisayakul presided over the opening ceremony and took a look around the fair. Organic vegetables, local herbs, local green tea, wine, vegetables, and coconut shell products were on sale at reasonable prices.

The governor said that he would push local farmers to grow more jasmine rice because local people are currently only growing jasmine sticky rice for domestic consumption purposes.

He believes that the quality of Lampang jasmine rice depends on soil and climate. Lampang farmers grow the same species as northeast area farmers, but they do not have the same quality as the local product.

By looking at statistics on national gross rice production, it can be seen that the plantation areas have increased to 19,020,000 rai from the former 50,000 rai in 1967, and the average product yield has gone from 250 kilograms/rai in 1967 to 305 kilograms/rai.

58 percent of Thai jasmine rice is exported throughout Asia, 5 percent to the Middle East, 7 percent to Europe, 3 percent to Africa, 24 percent to North and South America and 3 percent in the Asia Pacific area.

Pandas on CCTV help draw crowds to Chiang Mai Zoo

Panda dolls and t-shirts are hot sellers

During the recent APEC summit holidays, many people from both Chiang Mai and other nearby provinces flocked through the Chiang Mai Zoo turnstiles, increasing revenue by 100,000 baht per day. There were also further revenues from the sale of panda souvenirs.

Even though the public was not yet allowed to visit the giant pandas, Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui, the visitors could see them via a closed circuit television, and most of the visitors bought panda souvenirs, with the dolls and the T-shirt being the most favoured.

In addition, there were activities such as T-shirt painting contests plus natural tourist attractions, such as the international park.

The long APEC holidays brought many people to Chiang Mai as the weather in the north of Thailand was so cool. On the top of Doi Inthanon, the highest point of Thailand, it was 9 degrees Celsius in the morning of October 22.

Lanterns and krathongs festive celebrations planned for Phayao

Preserving local traditions and culture

Preparations are underway for a lantern parade and krathong floating festive celebrations in Phayao province to mark the long legend of Phu Kham Yao sub district and at the same time to preserve folk culture.

The Dong Jan Tambon Municipality of Phu Kham Yao sub-district is the host of this event and a representative said that this northern province has already planned for the celebrations, which will be held on November 6 at the sport grounds of Dong Jan Wittayakom School.

Amongst the activities the visitors can experience a variety of cultural displays such as a Klong Sa Bud Chai victory drum beating contest, Fon Leb (northern classic fingernail dance), together with a lantern and krathong contest and importantly including a light and sound presentation titled “Muang Kaew Wieng Phu Kham Yao” which will be set up to mark Phu Kham Yao sub district’s 900 year history.

Ban Suntisuk Hydro-electric plant officially launched

Local electrical grid has been revolted

Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng, along with Prapat Panyachartraks, minister of natural resources and environment, and his team, presided over the opening ceremony of the hydro-electric plant project at the village level of Ban Suntisuk, Tambon Khunkwuan, Pong district, Phayao. Construction began on January 15 this year and it was completed on May 31.

The project, which was supported by the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, commenced electricity services on June 3, 2003 with its current capability 30 kilovolts to provide service for about 150 households and approximately 1,100 residents. The project was also regarded as clean energy, with no harm to environment and in addition, a low-cost operation.

At the ceremony, the deputy prime minister said he would attempt to obtain a budget for road construction in the community area to assist transportation of local crops to the city’s market and expand other opportunities for local residents.

The deputy prime minister also stressed the importance of the forest area of Ban Suntisuk as the key region for water resources which could become suitable for a community forest policy if the local residents were given education and development on this subject. Upon the completion of this program, the forest area would be under protection and help solve the flood and drought problem.

Chiang Mai Municipality to hold Yee Peng (Loy Krathong) Festival

Yee Haah!

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

Chiang Mai’s Yee Peng (Loy Krathong) Festival is scheduled from November 7-9 with many activities to impress tourists and visitors and promote more than 700 years of Chiang Mai arts, culture and traditions.

Yee Peng is one of the most colorful festivals of the year in Chiang Mai and is organized by Chiang Mai Municipality in conjunction with other organizations. This annual event takes place for three days on the twelfth lunar month, around the 14th and 15th days of the new moon (this year November 7-9).

Chiang Mai Yee Peng (Loy Krathong) festival scheduled on November 7-9, will present many cultural activities, and is expected to draw many tourists.

The culmination of this festival is fabulous, with krathong beauty contest, krathong floats and grand parades that will be held on the third night with a very colorful procession starting from Thapae gate, passing Warorot Market to the municipal offices and then floating the krathongs down the Ping River showing respect and gratitude to the Lord Buddha.

This year, at Wat Lok Mo Lee there will be art and cultural shows and Buddhism rites November 7-9. One of the highlights of the festival will be the Light and Sound of Ping River show on all three days covering cultural and Buddhist heritage and the last life of the Lord Buddha before he was born as Prince Siddhartha at Wat Jed Lin.

The Nang Noppamas beauty contest will be held at Thapae Gate as always but this year there is a special candlelight market (Local Night Market), and the city will be decorated with revolving lanterns.

For more information, contact Chiang Mai Municipality office telephone 053 259 096-98 or Tourism Authority of Thailand, Chiang Mai office at 053 248 604 and 053 248 607.

Tourism businesses told to work together

Clustering tourism project will benefit Chiang Mai

Reinhard Hohler (GMS Media Travel Consultant)

The “Clustering” seminar at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel in Chiang Mai attracted over 100 participants on October 25.

There was an agreement on the first phase 3-month tourism project called “Clustering” between the Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association (CTBA), Chiang Mai University (CMU) and Kenan Institute Asia, Bangkok.

From left: Assist Prof Wasant Chormpakdee and Assist Prof Yongyuth Chiaboon of the Faculty of Engineering, Boonlert Perera, Prof Frank Roman, and Rachan Veeraphan, advisor to the Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association toast the signing of an MOU to promote tourism in the area.

“Clustering is necessary to keep tourists staying some days longer in Chiang Mai,” explained Kh. Peirera, head of the Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association.

Jack Kelly, senior competitiveness consultant and representing the Kenan Institute Asia, brought out future strategies for private companies in Chiang Mai to develop, similar to the present situation in the Scottish border shires.

To counterbalance the ongoing competition between the different tour companies, hotels, restaurants, airlines, and handicraft shops, both networking and cooperation is necessary to produce short and long term benefits.

To sum up the capabilities and the strengths of Chiang Mai, a cluster development scheme should combine agro-tourism, spas, golf, and educational tourism. The markets of Japan, Korea, and Singapore should be tapped to enlarge the convention market in Chiang Mai.

Phuket can only offer sea, sand and sun, while Chiang Mai has mountains, hill tribes and an indigenous 700 hundred-year-old culture, and its own individual cuisine influenced by neighboring Myanmar. Chiang Mai will also be at the crossroads of the ambitious East-West Corridor, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, Chiang Mai is being promoted as an aviation hub and gateway to the Greater Mekong Sub-Region, comprising Yunnan/China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Participants at the seminar were told to work together on the “Unseen Thailand” vision to accomplish a bright future for the tourism industry in Chiang Mai, and wished Professor Frankie Roman, chief of the Thailand Competitiveness Initiative a successful project.

Mae Hong Son creates roadmap on tourism strategies

Map folding destined to become an art form

The Mae Hong Son governor, Supot Laowansiri, along with other organizations from both government and private sectors set up a meeting recently to map out tourism strategies within the province.

The participants emphasized developing tourism in the province to attempt to promote travel activities all year round. Other points raised included the fact that some services should be upgraded to meet the standards expected these days by the tourists.

In the initial plan and framework, tourist spots such as the natural attractions and the folkways of life and traditions were the main focus with ideas to make them outstanding and unique.

Strategies would also be in accordance with the tourism policies of the three neighbouring provinces of Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Lampang under the government plan to make the regions the eco-tourism center in South East Asia.

Royal Project and Northern Agriculture Day to kick off in December

Green thumbs explained

Royal Project Foundation together with the Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University (CMU) has set the schedule for the Royal Project and Northern Agriculture day(s), which will be on December 17-21 as part of the celebration for Her Majesty the Queen’s 72nd birthday anniversary next year.

It aims to promote agricultural development activities and tourist attractions in the Royal Project Foundation following the Chiang Mai government’s policy “Pleasing Community.”

Wichien Noonrod, chief Chiang Mai provincial public relations officer, said that this event would be held at CMU’s Art Museum, Agricultural Research and Experiment Plantation Irrigation Zone and CMU Art and Culture Promotion Center.

He added that this fair is part of the celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s 72nd birthday anniversary as well as to acknowledge the most advanced agricultural, biological, and environmental techniques. Consequently, the fair would feature an exhibition of HM Queen’s activities in the region and many booths from the “Doi Kham” Royal Project.

Two new roads linking Chiang Mai and Lamphun underway

Just follow the railway line

Lamphun province is getting ready for a major road construction project along both sides of the railway line between Chiang Mai and Lamphun.

The plan includes building new roads to link Chiang Mai and Lamphun on both sides of the railway. The 8 km long road in the western part of the railway would be launched from a branch road in Tambon Pa Dad, Chiang Mai, to reach the Palm Spring village.

On the eastern side it will start from Doi Ti in Lamphun and connect to Charoen Muang Rd. Chiang Mai, a total of 27 kilometers. A budget of 149 million baht has been allocated and construction will be officially blessed on November 8 this year.

Lamphun Governor Thawat Sathiennam said that this project was initiated by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to prepare for the economic boom expected to hit Chiang Mai and Lamphun, as well as providing a transportation route for heavy containers from the Northern Region Industrial Estate to the export portal sites.

This project, he said, would help relieve traffic problems on the main Chiang Mai-Lamphun superhighway, and would link the historical tourist sites of Hariphunchai in Lamphun and Wieng Kum Kam in Chiang Mai.

The blessing ceremony for the construction project would be held on the road in the eastern side of the railway line on November 8 at 9.19 a.m. Construction is expected to take six months.

Sportron International refute FDA ban

Manufacturer denies ephedrine claim

Pichitpon Tongtuek

The Provincial Public Health Office in Phitsanulok province claims there is “Synthetic Ephedrine” mixed in the Sportron product called “Tone AM”, a herbal compound that promotes weight loss.

“Synthetic Ephedrine” is a chemical used in producing amphetamines. This accusation has caused the company much damage and the subsequent decrease in orders and return of goods has seriously affected the manufacturer.

Noppadon Klinbumrung, chairman of the board at Sportron International (Thailand) and the company’s committee held a press conference to refute the FDA claims about their product.

At a press conference last week, Noppadon Klinbumrung, chairman of the board at Sportron International (Thailand) said that he did not know why the FDA banned his product, because he had opened the company 11 years ago and up till now there were no problems at all.

They have sent samples of their products to be checked at the Medical Sciences Department in Bangkok and are waiting for the results.

A sample of “Tone AM” produced by Sportron International (Thailand).

The conference was held to tell the media that there was no “Synthetic Ephedrine” mixed in the company’s product.

Sportron, and the obese members of the public, await further chemical examination!

Flesh trade busted behind noodle shop in Chiang Rai

Do you want some doodles to go with your noodles, sir?

Five aliens, aided by the owner of a noodle restaurant in Chiang Rai to illegally enter Thailand, have been charged with selling sexual services and being in possession of fake ID cards.

Chiang Rai Muang district chief officer, Sanit Phusaengthong, along with Supak Sawetwisuwat, the assistant district chief officer engaged a willing volunteer task force to launch a crackdown on the flesh trade in Chiang Rai.

Their undercover(s) activities resulted in the arrest of three Burmese girls, natives of Chiang Tung and Tachilek provinces in Burma, who were found to be involved with prostitution. The three were arrested during a sting operation when volunteers made appointments to make use of their services at a local hotel, and it wasn’t takeaway noodles.

Armed with a search warrant, the team seized two more Burmese girls in the house behind the noodle shop on Sankokchang Road, and detained Wirat Kaewwanna, aged 36, the housekeeper who was suspected of being part of the prostitution ring. The five aliens were charged with illegal entry and prostitution.

The offenders told the enforcement team that Kaew Pholyiam, the owner of the noodle shop and Nopphol Pholyiam, her husband, were behind the prostitution business, providing accommodation for them and arranging their services for customers at 300 baht each time.

However, the aliens planned to escape to other regions after working there for a short time.

Kaew, along with her husband, were also charged with fabricating ID cards and a haul of mobile phones was held as evidence of other illegal activities. One of the Burmese women also tested positive for drugs.

It looks as if Kaew Pholyiam is quitting the ‘kwiteo’ business for a while.

Police stop armed man claiming he was military intelligence

Arrested for being an oxymoron?

Varavin Sutjarit, aged 41, a drug network suspect was apprehended at the police checkpoint in Mae Chan district last weekend. The checkpoint had been set up as security for the social order campaign concert at Suksa Songkroh School.

The suspect was stopped by the police for driving an unlicensed pick-up truck. A cursory look inside the vehicle revealed a .22 pistol with 24 rounds of ammunition. Investigating further, the police also found an M16 weapon, 38 rounds of ammunition, bullet-proof vest and other equipment used by commandos.

Varavin then claimed that he was working for an anti-drug agency and military intelligence. However, a quick telephone call to the ONCB, DEA and all other concerned organizations brought the information that he was wanted by the Chiang Rai provincial court on charges of trafficking in 35 kilograms of heroin.

Perhaps he was taking the firearms to sell at the gun shop to pay for his vehicle registration?

CMU students to quit alcohol and cigarettes for King Rama V

Perform ritual throwing of alcoholic drinks and burning cigarettes

The International Buddhist Club, under the patronage of Somdej Phra Maha Ratchamangklacharn, educational executives committee, lecturers, university union, student clubs from all 17 faculties, and other organizations in Chiang Mai University participated in a pledge to give up alcohol and cigarettes. This was held at Sala Angkaew Hall, on Chulalongkorn Day, October 23.

The pledge ceremony was jointly presided over by CMU president Asst Prof Dr Nipon Tuwanont, and the abbot of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Somdej Phra Maha Ratchamangklacharn.

The ceremony included a display of sword dancing, Thai instrumental music, and Thai drums before the ritual throwing of alcoholic drinks and burning cigarettes. 18 students took a life-long pledge.

Pha Muang Task Force raided border village

Nab 30 aliens and 0.5 kg marijuana

The combined force of the Third Army Region in cooperation with the Office of Narcotic Control Board (ONCB) busted drug refineries along the northern Thai-Burmese border, seizing raw marijuana and 30 illegal immigrants.

The task force searched for drugs and found half a kilo of raw marijuana in the raid along the border area of Doi Kiew Phaworg, Ban Arunothai Village, in Tambon Muang Na, Chiang Dao district, Chiang Mai, which is a major area under the control of Wa minority group.

The force also captured 30 Thai Yai and Wa illegal immigrants, 21 men, 3 women and 6 residents from Arunothai Village. This raid was a part of the offensives planned along the border, during which time police expect to confiscate about one hundred million methamphetamine tablets.

Chiang Mai Police set up safety plan and counter measures for Yee Peng

Everyone wants a happy Loy Krathong

Saksit Meesapkwang

Chiang Mai Police have already prepared measures to deal with security problems during Yee Peng (Loy Krathong) celebrations in Chiang Mai. Pol Lt. Col Viroj Kaesaporn, public relations officer, said Chiang Mai Police have gathered information on criminal movements, with a view to preventing problems for the visitors.

Police will be sent to the main spots to maintain security and to search for all kinds of illegal goods, drugs and weapons during the festival, he said.

He added that during Yee Peng Festival from November 7-9, police would examine shops selling fireworks to see whether they had a license.

Pol Lt. Col Viroj expressed concerns over teenagers’ behavior with explosive firecrackers that could cause some dangers to tourists and property, and said that police officers would take serious action on this group.

Public health statistics show that during the festival last year, there were 170 injured and 1 death; mainly from fireworks and motorcycle accidents.

Off-road Family Rally 2003 scheduled for December 6 - 7

Visiting Royal Projects on the itinerary

Phitsanu Thepthong

Suan Pakasit is the property of Their Majesties the King and Queen, and is used for agricultural projects. The Off-road Family Rally 2003 is being held to support the preservation and development of communities at Ban Muang Kong and Tambon Piang Luang in the Suan Pakasit locality.

This area has been developed to strengthen the local communities, including the schools, and provide some financial support, and this charity rally has been organized so the public can get to know more about the rural communities.

(From left) Apirat Thakrattanasarun, rally organizing committee chairman; Ek Maneesai, Pakasit Park manager; Lek Saralham, MC of the Plaza; Abra Maneesai and Orachorn Chantarawiwattana.

Ek Maneesai, the park manager said funds from this rally will be used for lunches for poor and disadvantage students. The rally participants would get an understanding of soil and water preservation and management, and help link mutual understanding between the people in the city and the traditions and cultures of the villagers.

Ban Piang Luang village dancers descended from Yunnan Chinese immigrants.

The rally is divided into three categories: Off-roaders, covering a distance from Chiang Mai-Piang Luang-Muang Kong; Family cars, and VIP cars. The admission fees are 2,200, 1,500 and 3,000 baht respectively.

During the press conference, local dances were performed by the former Chinese villagers from Ban Piang Luang and Ban Muang Kong, where primitive ways of life, art and culture, still exist unchanged.