HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai treated to the Wonders of Three Cultures

Trade and investment opportunities in Northern Thailand

Two artists exhibit at Gongdee Gallery

Thanksgiving Day Dinner in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai treated to the Wonders of Three Cultures

Phitsany Thepthong

November 28-30 saw the three day event, the Wonders of Three Cultures, Laos, Burma and Thailand, held in Chiang Mai. It was officially opened by Vasing Kittikul, Executive Vice President and Customer Service Department of Thai Airways International (THAI).

The Three Kings Monument

At the opening of the event, he said this was jointly organized by several sectors to promote tourism and the airline industry, with Chiang Mai is as the aviation hub, linking the neighboring countries.

During the three day event the highlights were the performances of art and culture from Burma, Laos and Thailand.

The Wonders of 3 Cultures in Chiang Mai was really a ‘once in a lifetime’ event. Three countries, three cultures, side by side on a spectacular stage set against a magnificent backdrop of fountains, water projections and laser harp. (L to R) Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. (Photo: Michael Vogt)

Luang Prabang in Laos, is the former capital of Lan Xang (the kingdom of a million elephants), and was listed by UNESCO as one of the world’s cultural heritage sites worthy of preservation. The town retains the truly traditional Laotian lifestyle, boasting serene Buddhist temples, and a slow pace of life.

Burma’s fine art Karaweik troupe perform a breathtaking keem dance.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has always been a land of great culture for more than 2,000 years. This can be seen in its shimmering bell-shaped pagodas, gilded with layers of gold leaf, pierce the skylines of the cities and towns, traditional Burmese style teak-wood carvings, charms of golden pagodas, expertise in silver and lacquer ware.

The Paothong Thongjua team from Bangkok presented a stunning fashion show.

In addition, Thailand’s Lanna, the land of cultural charms, with its beautiful natural environment and harmony in art and culture. Despite extensive modernization, Lanna still maintains its rich traditions, authentic lifestyles, crafts and architectures. Chiang Mai as the centre of the area always impresses visitors with rich traditional environment and relaxing atmosphere.

The grand and spectacular fashion show featured dazzling antique costumes modeled by the Chiang Mai based Sabun-nga modeling troupe and Bangkok-based famous models.

The cultural performances by the Three neighboring countries of Laos, Burma and Thailand hosted by Thai Airways International were very impressive. Suthep Seubsantiwongse, the executive vice president of THAI and Chiang Mai MP Yaowapha Wongsawas presided over the opening ceremony and delivered welcoming addresses to all the guests including Chiang Mai deputy governor Prinya Parnthong, Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn, the Laotian Ambassador to Thailand, and Chao Duangduen na Chiang Mai.

Laos’ dance troupe performed traditional dance from Laos.

Trade and investment opportunities in Northern Thailand

German Asia-Pacific Association delegation visits Chiang Mai

Marion Vogt

An investment group of mainly businessmen and government officials from Europe have been in northern Thailand to investigate opportunities to increase trade and investment relations between the two countries.

Hagen Dirksen received a gift of appreciation from Siriporn Nurugsa, the director of the BOI’s Northern Region Investment and Economic Center. (Photo by Michael Vogt)

The opening address, at a seminar at the Royal Princess Hotel, was given by Deputy Governor Thongchai Wongrianthong who was proud of the excellent cooperation between the Chamber of Commerce, the northern region investment and economic center of the BOI and the Industrial Federations who co-sponsored the meeting.

Deputy Governor Thongchai stated that this exchange of ideas will lead to mutually beneficent activities in the future. (Photo by Michael Vogt)

Hagen Dirksen, Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany also welcomed the delegates, who spoke on the ‘Rose of the North’ with its rich history, unique culture, beauty, and hospitably and exceptionally good food. He named tourism as still the major industry in the Northern Province with more than 50,000 Germans visiting every year, but adding that Chiang Mai is also becoming known as a place for retirement. Reasons for this include the moderate climate, access to an excellent and inexpensive health service system, an affordable cost of living, and a low crime rate.

Hagen Dirksen’s summary included the evolving as a regional ‘education hub’, the small and medium size enterprises (SME’s) in handicraft, garment, pottery, art design and furniture industries, but most of all Chiang Mai is a center for agricultural production and agribusiness. He said, “The fertile valleys and lower slopes of the mountains in the North provide an excellent production base not only for rice, but also for vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, and other cash crops. The processed products are mainly exported to Japan and other Asian countries, but also to Europe.”

Hagen Dirksen did not stop there, as despite the positive factors mentioned in infrastructure development, Chiang Mai is facing a number of major challenges. There is a need for an efficient and cost-effective public transport system and adequate wastewater treatment plants, as well as an effective solid waste management system.

In the regional context, there are infrastructure projects envisaged that could become subject to international bidding. These projects, mainly coordinated under the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) and Economic Quadrangle program, are aimed at developing regional north-south and east-west economic corridors. However, as the implementation of GMS plans has far-reaching political, social and economic implications for the entire region, it is difficult to predict when these mega-projects will be started, let alone completed.

Naturally, the question of funding these projects is also a challenging issue, but as regional tourism and trade is growing rapidly, especially between South-China and Thailand, so are the opportunities for regional cooperation and foreign investment.

Rachan Veeraphun, the chairman of the joint economic quadrangle chambers committee (JEQC) agreed 100 percent with Hagen Dirksen’s speech and confirmed the importance of the quadrangle project and pointed out that this year it will actually be six countries because Vietnam and Bangladesh will be joining.

He updated the delegation on the progress of important road construction in China, Thailand and Laos, with three major roads now under construction. The condition of the road in Laos is very poor so the Thai and Chinese governments with the support from the Asian Development Bank are jointly helping Laos with a low interest loan of USD 30 million from each party to build the 228 km road which is expected to be finished in 2007.

Another road is almost finished to reduce the traveling time from the Thai border to China to only six hours. This is the so called North-South Corridor.

He also appraised the delegates of the new Thailand and China Free Trade Area (FTA) which already increased the volume of exports to China by 560 percent last October. In return, vegetables and fruit import to Thailand increased 175 percent.

Two artists exhibit at Gongdee Gallery

Marion Vogt

When Vichit Chaiwong, the owner of Gongdee studio and gallery, invites young artists to have an exhibition in his studio, it is an honor. Vichit, who graduated himself from Silpakorn University, went on to develop his skills under the watchful eye of Professor Aub Sanasen, who has had a significant influence on Vichit’s work.

U-Kaew Sanasen in front of ‘our’ favorite painting - a very bright colorful portrait. (Photo by Michael Vogt)

Professor Aub Sanasen also had a significant influence on one of the young artists featured in the ongoing Gongdee Gallery exhibition - being his daughter U-kaew, and as a father he was obviously very proud that his youngest daughter is following the family tradition.

U-kaew Sanasen, when asked when she started to paint, became quiet and then said, “Oh, I don’t remember, I paint all my life ... My mother is a musician, my father a painter, and my sister Ormkwan Sanasen has been recognized as one of Bangkok’s finest multi-talented people. So for me to follow what I like to do best was never a matter of question.”

Sarawuth in front of his personnel favorite sculpture. (Photo by Michael Vogt)

U-kaew, who already has a BA in Fine Arts, is doing an MA course at Silpakorn University and her paintings have changed from life and imaginative to figure studies. They are still lively and colorful, but with a huge emphasis on technique, method and style.

The second artist is Sarawuth Thongkampa, an honors student who, since 1987, has received many awards for his sculptures. Over the years, Sarawuth’s sculptures have changed from detailed playful sculptures to cleaner lines and when asked which was his favorite, he quickly chose a tall wooden lady, looking like a Roman figure in shining armor.

(From left) Vichit Chaiwong, MD Gongdee Gallery, U-Kaew Sanasen, Sarawuth Thongkampa and Professor Aub Sanasen. (Photo by Michael Vogt)

Both artists, U-Kaew Sanasen and Sarawuth Thongkampa, are on exhibition at Gongdee Gallery until December 31.

Thanksgiving Day Dinner in Chiang Mai

But the turkey, duck and chicken didn’t thank anybody

Marion Vogt
Photos by Michael Vogt

In Chiang Mai, with so many global citizens, every nation celebrates its own special days, and restaurants offer national promotions. However, when it comes to Thanksgiving, a real American holiday, it is not that easy to find a proper turkey dinner with all the trimmings except in big hotels, simply because Thai food is cooked in a wok and not in a large oven needed for the big bird.

The Tur-duck-en (Tur from turkey, duck and en from chicken).

We were lucky enough to be invited to an All-American Thanksgiving dinner, and it was, like so many other aspects of life, not about stuffing yourself with food, but sharing a meal with friends and family.

Our little Thanksgiving Dinner started with us sitting around in beautiful sunshine, enjoying a breeze, which almost smelled like ‘winter’ - yes, 16 degrees is freezing cold in Chiang Mai! Tabasco spiced warm pecans were passed around to warm us up.

Almost like a festive Christmas table.

By the time for the main course - the turkey - we were ready. Out it came, but it was not an ordinary turkey. It was a ‘Tur-duck-en’. What is a Tur-duck-en? It is a turkey stuffed with oyster dressing, stuffed with a duck stuffed with rice, stuffed with a chicken stuffed with sausage and apple stuffing. Easy, when you know how!

Just a little bit more whipping cream would be perfect on my pumpkin pie, wouldn’t it? Bud, Richard and Marc in the background waiting his turn.

It tasted as delicious as it looked. Huge portions of Tur-duck-en, chilled asparagus with mustard sauce, baked pumpkin with sour cream, homemade cranberry sauce, gravy, the stuffing - it was such a great meal! Afterwards everyone stuffed themselves with pumpkin pie, mincemeat pie (no meat, but rum-raisins and nuts) and whipping cream.

It was nice to be amongst friends, and to give thanks to the turkey, duck and chicken who made it all happen!

Thanksgiving is all about sharing a meal with friends and family.

The ‘specialists’ (Marc and Michael) found cutting the turkey was not an easy task.