Buddhist legacies in South East Asia
The Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient united in Bangkok
The 3 days international conference at the Sirindhorn
Anthropological Centre (SAC) in Thonburi/Bangkok on December 18-20, 2003 was
ceremonially opened by H.R.H. Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas
Rajanagarindra in celebration of the auspicious occasion of her 80th
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presented the keynote lecture on the
Buddhist concept of “parami”.
H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn graciously
consented to give the keynote lecture on the Buddhist concept of
“parami” to correlate it in the Thai context to the superhuman power of
the king and to the 10 royal perfect virtues and conducts.
Under the 14 guest speakers, there were two foreign
speakers from Chiang Mai. German National Dr. Hans Penth, Archive of Lan Na
Inscriptions, Social Research Institute, Chiang Mai University, introduced
the relatively unknown Phra Bua Khem Images in Lan Na that originated in
Myanmar and have a lotus, a snail and a fish on the underside of the
Dr. Louis Gabaude, a member of the prestigious L’Ecole
Francaise d’Extreme-Orient lectured on “dana” as a window on Thai
Buddhist mentalities. By using French and Thai languages, he critically
examined traditional merit-making practices and new types of gifts for true
Buddhists in the modern world.
Another highlight of the conference was a lecture by Thai
historian Dr. Charnvit Kasetsiri which illuminated the journey of King Rama
V to India in 1872 and the following reformations in Siam because of India.
Also of high interest was the presentation of Dr. Paritta
Chalermpow Konantakool, director of SAC, to survey community-based museums
in Thai monasteries, where objects of offering, such as antiquities,
curiosities and ethnic artifacts abound.
Furthermore, American Dr. Donald K. Swearer, Swarthmore
College, gave vivid interpretations on the presence of the Buddha in
Northern Thailand in anticipating his forthcoming book project about the
sacred geography of this special Buddha land.
Almost at the end Dr. Michel Lorrillard from the
Vientiane branch of the l’Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient held a
lecture to give the material evidence that the diffusion of Lao Buddhism
went from Lan Na and rejecting the cultural influence of Cambodia.
In the end, everybody agreed that the aim of the
conference to show the original developments of Theravada Buddhism in
Southeast Asia, from Arakan in the west to Cambodia in the east, was fully
accomplished. All participants and some 500 visitors have to say thank you
to H.E. Laurent Aublin, French ambassador in Bangkok, who privately paid for
this hospitable conference. Khunying Khaisri Sri-Aroon, secretary of the
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Foundation organized the event as perfect as
possible. Hopefully, many more similar events will follow!
For further information, please contact: Reinhard Hohler, GMS Media
Travel Consultant, by e-mail: [email protected]
Armed Air Marshals on Thailand-Singapore flights
Pacific Asia Travel Association information
Singapore and Thailand are close to an agreement to put
armed air marshals on flights between the two countries. Singapore already
has a similar deal with Australia.
Other news in the region includes Singapore Airlines is
creating commercial aviation history with a non-stop service between
Singapore and Los Angeles commencing on February 3, 2004.
Malaysian budget airline AirAsia has received permission
to fly to Bangkok from January 15, 2004. AirAsia aims to have 22 planes by
the end of next year, up from its current nine.
Cathay Pacific has won the right to fly the
trans-Atlantic London-New York route, making it possible to offer
Virgin Atlantic has won the right to fly to Sydney from
Hong Kong, allowing it to connect to its low cost airline, Virgin Blue.
The Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner is due to enter service in
2008, replacing the 757 and 767 jets. The aircraft is designed to save on
fuel and operating costs. One version will be able to fly 18 hours non-stop.
Tourism enjoying a bright outlook for 2004
International meetings and pandas are the draw cards says THA
Chiang Mai’s tourism related business revenues fell
this year by a little over 4.5 percent, but in the New Year all hotels are
claiming 80-95 percent occupancy rates.
Vorapong Muchaotai, president of Thai Hotels Association
(THA), Northern Chapter, said that a large growth in Chiang Mai tourism
related businesses is expected next year. “With many international
meetings scheduled to be hosted in Chiang Mai next year as well as a massive
influx of tourists wishing to visit the two Chinese goodwill ambassadors,
Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui, and with the expanding network of low cost
airline services, I expect to see an enormous growth in our tourism business
next year,” he said.
THA Northern Chapter president added that 90-95 percent
of city’s hotel rooms had been booked as well as 80-85 percent of resort
hotel accommodation during the New Year holidays and confirmed there would
be no extra service charges during the holidays.
The big concern, he said, was the shortage of
professional tourism staff and well-planned marketing and public relations
strategies for the medium sized local hotels.
Chiang Mai has plans for college courses for students who
would like to come in to the world of tourism with courses designed to
increase fluency in foreign languages, finance, cookery and management.
TAT to host Consumer Fair
Chiang Mai to be hub of consumerism?
The Tourism Authority of Thailand, Northern Office,
Region 1, will host the Chiang Mai Consumer Fair at Lanna Hall, Central
Airport Plaza in the second week of February. Chalermsak Suranant, director
of TAT, Northern Office, Region 1, said that he had planned to hold this
fair at the end of January, but unfortunately he had to postpone due to two
big events coming up.
Suranant, TAT Northern Office Region 1 Director announces the Consumer Fair
at Lanna Hall, Central Airport Plaza.
“At the end of January, there will be the Chinese New
Year celebrations and a week after that there will be the 3rd Chiang Mai
Tropical & Ornamental Plants Festival, so we should not hold the fair
against those two major events,” he added.
The fair will have more than 150 booths, presenting all
products from every region and Chiang Mai will emphasize its medical and
health care hub strategy to promote spas as well as new travel routes to the
To make Chiang Mai tourism gain in popularity, local tour
agencies should come up with unique packages to attract tourists, not only
presenting new products but trying to mingle old products with new products
and presenting them in the most interesting way.
TAT Northern Office Region 1 expects that more than
300,000 people would attend the fair, bringing approximately 300-400
millions baht circulating during the three days of the fair.
Chalermsak said that he saw a successful future linking Chiang Mai with
neighboring countries such as Burma, China and Laos, but there was no
specific organization trying to make it happen right now.