HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai honors His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great

Southeast Asian temple drawings

Bua Tong in full bloom in Mae Hong Son

Doi Kham Fair 2003 and 3rd Agricultural Fair at CMU

Payap’s Sacred Music and Christmas songs

Todd Thongee performs “SIMMS” Music at the Riverside

Chiang Mai honors His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great

Thousands turn out for candle-lit ceremony

Natchawi Srirat

Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities and people throughout this northern province joined in a candle-lit ceremony to honor His Majesty the King on his birthday celebration on December 5, assembling in the area in front of the Chiang Mai City Hall. The celebration was led by Chiang Mai governor, Suwat Tantipat, marking the 76th anniversary of the birth of His Majesty the King.

Governor Suwat Tantipat lighting the candle as the symbol of the offering for His Majesty the King.

More than ten thousand people from every part of Chiang Mai were present, including representatives from the Japanese Consulate, American Consulate, Indian Consulate, and the Chinese Consulate, plus representatives from every government organization and non-government organization in Chiang Mai, as well as the thousands of local people, all showing loyal support toward His Majesty the King, the longest reigning monarch in the world.

To mark the occasion, Chiang Mai province organized spectacular fireworks, large “Long Life” signs in the middle of the field, Thai blessing dance performances, and a military band.

The staff of the Chiangmai Mail also joins the nation in honouring His Majesty the King, on this auspicious occasion.

Southeast Asian temple drawings

“As for the seen, there are many ways of looking”

Jacquelyn Suter
Photo by Natchawi Srirat

I went to the Chiang Mai Arts & Cultural Center (behind Three Kings Monument) expecting to see, quite frankly, a routine exhibit of temple drawings. My interest in art is high, so even this prospect drew me. Instead, what I found was one of the most interesting exhibitions of temple renderings that I’ve seen in some time.

Original art showing the beauty of the temple.

Mary Griep, an American artist, professor, and Chiang Mai resident, has presented us with the opportunity to view exciting mixed media pieces in a combination of pencil drawing, watercolor, and collage. Mixed media is not usually associated with temple drawings, hence my surprise to find this very interesting exhibit was much more than I expected.

Two large pieces are splendid - a 7 meter long facade of Angkor Wat in Cambodia executed with fine draftsmanship combined with small collage accents, and the same technique rendering of the Thatbyinnyu Temple in Pagan, Burma. The originality of both works extends beyond the media to the framing technique itself - multiple frames break up the piece, yet work together to reassemble the whole in a provocative way.

In addition to these two large pieces, there are a number of smaller works equally as exciting. Thought-provoking paintings from the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia share space on the walls with small collage pieces with embedded quotations such as the one in the heading of this article.

Beautiful to the eye and provocative to the mind, this exhibit is a must-see but will end on December 19. I can only hope that since Mary Griep lives in Chiang Mai, she might find it convenient to give us more opportunities to view her work.

Bua Tong in full bloom in Mae Hong Son

But be prepared to sleep in the cemetery

Phornphimon Thimsat

The travel and tour related businesses in Mae Hong Son are doing well at this time, with many tourists wanting to see Bua Tong or Mexican flowers in their full yellow bloom.

Hotels and guesthouses are also enjoying 100 percent occupancy rates through to the middle of January 2004. Itsares Poosara, the chief of the Mae Hong Son Tourism Coordination Center, said that since November, there have been many tourists coming to visit Mae Hong Son, exceeding expectations, and resulting in some tourists setting up tents and camping at the Mae Hong Son municipal cemetery, as no rooms were available.

The tourism coordination center advises that visitors to this Northern Province should make advance inquiries and ask for room confirmation before arriving in Mae Hong Son by phoning 0-53612-9823.

To ease the problem, Surapol Sattayarak, the Khun Yuam District Chief Officer said that 10 rai on the Doi Mae U-Khor mountain has been reserved for campers.

Surapol also suggested people stay at Khun Yuam or Muang Mae Hong Son district towns after visiting the blossoms of Bua Tong at the Doi U-Khor, as at this time, there are already about 1,000 tourists staying at Doi Mae U-Khor per night.

Doi Kham Fair 2003 and 3rd Agricultural Fair at CMU

Part of HRH The Queen’s birthday celebrations

Chin Rattitamkul

The Doi Kham Fair 2003 and the 3rd Agricultural Fair, Northern Region, will take place December 17-21 at the Arts and Culture Center areas of Chiang Mai University (CMU) on Nimmanhaeminda Road, from 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily. The Royal Project Foundation, the Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University, and Highlands Agricultural Development Office, have jointly organized the Fairs.

The products from the Royal Projects - fruits, vegetables, flowers, and processed food products.

HSH Bhisadej Rajani, the chairman of Royal Project Foundation, will, on behalf of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, graciously preside over the opening ceremony on December 17, at 5 p.m.

The fair is in line with the celebration of the 72nd birthday anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit next year, as well as to promote and increase agricultural productivity, and to boost grass roots economies of the villagers and farmers.

There will be exhibitions of royal charities, works and activities of Her Majesty The Queen, as well as from the Royal Project Foundation, and the Faculty of Agriculture. Her Majesty The Queen’s Foundation of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques (SUPPORT), a pilot school project for the highlands, and an anti-drug community campaign will also be on display.

The Royal Project’s activities will include sale of Doi Khum products, hill tribe handicrafts, souvenirs and sustainable environmental products, such as bio-fertilizer, organic matter and pesticides made from natural substances.

Prof Dr. Phongsak Angasit, the CMU vice president and the fairs’ organizing committee chairman, said there would be many activities for youths to participate in including contests for decorating arches, decorated flower-vases, and flower basket arrangements. There will also be demonstrations of food processing products from the Royal Project, with performances of different hill tribe groups.

The Fair will feature many interesting activities from academic and technology angles to the community. There will be demonstrations aimed to promote understanding between academics, leaders of communities, entrepreneurs, students, and people who are interested in sciences and technology on the topic of ‘Thai Agriculture and the World’s Kitchen’.

Assist Prof. Pithatya Saroumsiri, the dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, said there will be many useful exhibitions for people to help support Chiang Mai. The fair is also expected to stimulate closer cooperation between academics, institutes, community organizations, NGOs, and farmers, to support the government policy of promoting Chiang Mai to be the hub of tourist attractions in the north.

Payap’s Sacred Music and Christmas songs

Chin Ratitamkul

To honor Payap University’s 30th anniversary this year, the Music Department of the university gave a sacred music concert with pieces from the early 17th century, as well as contemporary Christmas songs.

Ajarn Ayu thanked the audience for their appreciation.

Ajarn Ayu Namthep, the founder of the sacred music group, said she wanted to preserve the ancient music, especially from the Renaissance period. Ajarn Ayu said this performance blended the sacred songs and contemporary pieces to make it more enjoyable.

The sacred music singers blended old and contemporary songs in this performance.

One of the singers, Annop Ruangmanee, a 2nd year student of the Music Department of Payap University, said they had practised for this performance since July. “We are proud that we can conserve valuable music from the past,” said Annop.

Todd Thongee performs “SIMMS” Music at the Riverside

By Chin Ratitamkul

“Music is the spirited language which is the shortcut to communicate to other spirits from my spirit,” says singer Todd Thongee.

Todd Thongdee (AKA Todd Lavelle), an American who has lived in Thailand for over 10 years, says he was always fascinated by Thai charms, and made his debut as an artist for his AIDS concert back in 1991.

Todd’s SIMMS concert in the crowded Riverside Restaurant.

Todd has released 8 albums by now, and has possibly become one of Thailand’s most renowned foreigners, also being the author of over 20 books, over 10 CD’s of original “Real Music for Real People”, and has just completed mastering “Back to the Beach”, a brand new CD, Book and Mini-Movie based on travels and work on Thailand’s “Islands of Ecstasy”.

The SIMMS concert stands for Stories in Myriad Musical Settings,” said the American musician. Todd added that this kind of music reflects feelings and stories. As always, Todd begins his musical journey with stories of war and nature, Full-Moon Parties, transvestite hunters, fishermen and their new catches, or simply the beauty of myth combined with the waves and shore.

After completing his travels and excursions, Todd will first begin to write the lyrics for a new song. Then, he starts improvising the music itself, music which is suitable for the content. For example, the song ‘Ladies Boyz’ which is about transvestites, is accompanied by a strong rhythm like Rock to express the feeling. It couldn’t be Blues or Jazz, but SIMMS can be anything that depends on the balance between the message and the medium.

In the latest Album, Back to the beach, which included the story of Todd’s trip to Samui Island, one finds much rock and jazz. “I won’t have faith in any specific kind of music but I just chose the appropriate way to communicate with the people,” Todd said, adding that he had never asked anyone to play music for free.

“It was not a charity or any business, I just want to enjoy the SIMMS kind of music,” Todd affirmed. For his future plans, he said it would depend on the producer and the audience if they would open their mind and try another form of music marketing.