HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Tourist numbers down for Chiang Mai’s flower festival

Identities versus Globalization?

Future star designers discovered?

Rotarians host Kindness in Action

Valentine Messages

Tourist numbers down for Chiang Mai’s flower festival

Bird flu and southern violence the reason?

Phitsanu Thepthong
and staff writers

The once very popular annual Festival of Flowers drew smaller crowds of both Thai and foreign tourists this year. With the festival being opened by the deputy minister of tourism and sports, the government should now be appraised of the fact that the much needed tourism is dwindling. Deputy Minister of Tourism and Sports Krekkrai Jiraphaet, admitted that the Festival of Flowers was backed by the government’s policy on tourism promotion.

Miss Flowers contestant in the floral float designed as the “Garuda”.

Reasons put forward for the decrease in numbers included terrorism threats and violence in the south of Thailand, the bid flu crisis and the Iraqi conflicts in the Middle East. However, perhaps many tourists are now going to alternate destinations because of the social order edicts compelling Thailand to close by 2 a.m. with now more threats of making Thailand the Cinderella country that has to close at midnight.

A blessing dance by northern girls was part of the ceremonies.

The deputy minister said that the Thaksin government has set up the tourism industry as one of the most important, as it could boost the Thai economy substantially. “This could help generate income and the government wants to designate Chiang Mai as a tourism hub in Asia as well as an export hub, as Chiang Mai has a very high potential,” he said.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat mans the podium at the beginning of the event.

However, the festival looked much as in previous years, with the number of floral floats only slightly down at 27, from the 31 planned earlier. It was organized by Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities, Chiang Mai Municipality, Tourism Authority of Thailand, and other organizations. Deputy Minister Krekkrai Jiraphaet presided over the opening ceremony. There were also translators present relaying the ceremony into English, French, German, and Japanese.

One of the blessing dance troupe wais to pay respect to the ceremony chairman.

The festivities began earlier Saturday morning with the performance by the Monfort School symphony orchestra, but it was the procession that was the most spectacular part of the fun. Each stunning float decorated with colorful fresh flowers made its way from the foot of Navarat Bridge, passing along Thapae Road, the city’s main roads and finally stopped at Nong Buak Had public park. Houses and shops along the city roads were also decorated with flowers and ornamental plants to make the city live up to its name as the “Rose of the North”. The beautiful local girls in their northern costumes carried by the floats later became part of the Miss Flowers beauty pageant held at Nong Buak Had.

Hill tribe students from Suksasongkroh schools in different designs and colors in the grand parade.

There was much more to the festival than just the parade, as at the park there were flowers and ornamental plants, flower arrangements, gardening displays, landscaping, and flower decorating.

One of the blessing dancers holds a blessing bowl.

In addition, there were local agricultural products, OTOP products, and a Chiang Mai food festival on offer for the festival goers.

On the Saturday evening, the judging of Miss Flowers 2004 for local Thai ladies and Miss Flower Bloom International Beauty Contest 2004 for internationals were held, with the winners dissolving into tears as is expected at these events. Or perhaps they were worried about getting home before midnight and their coaches turned into pumpkins!

Male and female models in the stunning northern style costumes looked very attractive.

Group of male and female elders in the floral parade.

Northern drum troupe in the parade.

Identities versus Globalization?

Art mirrors society

Text by Marion Vogt
Photos by Michael Vogt

Chiang Mai Art Museum experienced an opening which it had not seen in a long time. The Heinrich Boell Foundation had promoted a one of a kind exhibition and over 700 people came, just on this first evening.

The audience in front of a cone shaped monument built of aluminum trays and stands for the sensibility of women. It describes the inner conflict with the Vietnamese women’s struggle during modernization.

The Heinrich Boell office in Chiang Mai has had 15 art and education projects since their start in Southeast Asia in 2000, but the most ambitious so far is ‘Identities versus Globalization?’ which will be staged in two different areas - Thailand and Germany, South East Asia and Europe, bridging the gap between two worlds.

(From left) Uthit Atimana, vice dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts in charge of the Art Museum at CMU; Thongchai Wongrianthong, deputy governor of Chiang Mai; Hagen Dirksen hon. consul of Germany, and the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, HE Andreas von Stechow.

The Foundation stands for many things including intellectual openness, the development of a democratic civil society, equal rights and opportunities irrespective of gender, sexual predilections, religion, ethnic group or nation and they also support artists within the framework of educational work in ordinary society.

Mella Jaarsma, born in the Netherlands but living in Indonesia. She called this “The Follower”, the second skin everybody wears daily, such as memberships in specific groups, in cultural, social and religious surroundings. She sewed together badges that she had collected in Jogjakarta.

This exhibition features almost 60 artists from 10 Asian countries, including Burma, with a focus on both worlds, Asia and Europe. It was supposed to lead to more discussions regarding globalization in various workshops held after the opening.

Curator Joerg Loeschmann

Curator Joerg Loeschmann outdid himself choosing the artists, since they are representative of so many different patterns of life, locally addressing the meaning of globalization, while not forgetting the fact that in some countries globalization means a massive threat to the community itself.

Ly Hoang Ly lives and works in Hanoi. Her aluminum trays create an image of monotony, which is seen as the routine for a traditional woman in Vietnam.

This exhibition can be visited until February 29 at CMU Art Museum, and has much for adults and every high school student.

Ade Darmawan Jakarta. He is not promoting bombs, he is more interested in showing that the materials for an explosive bomb can be bought in every supermarket and are present in our day to day necessities. Our culture of consumption is likewise explosive.

Uthit Atimana, vice dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts in charge of the Art Museum at CMU was delighted to welcome so many VIPs, representatives of the consulates in Chiang Mai, including the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, HE Andreas von Stechow.

Marine Ky, Cambodia. This work challenges the political affiliation to ‘nationality’, ethnicity and that of identity. All is in a cardinal red, the color of fire and life in the present as opposed to a more bloody scarlet red, color of the past genocide.

The ambassador, in his address, said, “All diplomats are globalized. Their speeches all start with ‘I am very happy’ and end with a ‘Thank you’ for the people who invited them.” He added that he thinks globalization can be dangerous, but not so much in Thailand because personal individualism is still present in this tolerant country. But he, as a father, also extended a warning to all parents to take care of their children, because the internet with war games globalizes people and young people can easily be influenced by that. Strong personalities will never be globalized, neither will artists. They will keep their individuality and promote their identity through art, which could be seen in every single picture, photo and design.

Future star designers discovered?

Fashion Making To Design Contest 2004

Marion Vogt

Last weekend, just in time for Bangkok Fashion week, Central Airport Plaza was the center point for many ambitious creative young people from the North. They had come from Chiang Rai, Phitsanulok, and various universities in Chiang Mai. All had the same goal - to become a designer, or make themselves a name in the growing Thai fashion industry.

Pornsiri Dirabhatana, the director of business development at the Thai Textile Institute Bangkok with the winners.

It was a two-day contest in four different categories. Dress design and dress making, where three different kinds of materials were given out to each candidate, and they had to sketch the design, get approval from the jury from Taxila Fashion School, one of the finest of its kind in Thailand, cut the material, sew the garment, and have it presented on the catwalk to the public.

Every girl wanted to have the most beautiful Barbie doll. Here are the winners with their dream doll.

The second section was called ‘Fantasy Jeans’, where it was up to the artist to design something out of a pair of ready-made jeans, to show their creativity.

A representative from Central Pattana congratulating the winners in the ‘Fantasy Jeans’ category.

Section three was a wrap around, where contestants had to design a shawl with motifs, silver bangles, or any other decorative item and number four was the ‘Barbie Doll competition’.

Still at work, everything had to be planned, prepared and sewn in front of hundreds of onlookers and shoppers, who also gave ‘advice’ on how to do it.

Three winners were chosen in each category, and they will go to Bangkok at the end of this month to be part of the national competition, the winners of which will fly to Singapore as Thailand’s representatives.

The model fits the clothes like a Russian princess.

Bangkok, the fashion capital of Thailand is always on the lookout for young creative people and it takes an effort to stay on top. Some came as a team - designer and dressmaker, others did it all by themselves but when Pornsiri Dirabhatana, the director of business development at the Thai Textile Institute Bangkok announced the winners to take part in the Bangkok Extravaganza, faces lit up and the pressure of this last weekend disappeared.

Pornsiri expressed her joy at seeing such a number of talented people in Chiang Mai and explained that the plan to make Bangkok the Fashion Capital of Asia can only become reality if young, inspired people from all over the country are given the chance to develop themselves and fulfill their dreams.

Young, beautiful, ambitious and stunning. The model or the outfit?

The designs had to be approved first before material was given out to begin sewing.

Rotarians host Kindness in Action

Canadian dentists drilling their way into local hearts

Marion Vogt and
Marc Dumur

Rotary is known as an organization of business and professional leaders around the world, who provide humanitarian service. This was seen again last week when five dentists from Canada with five Canadian assistants arrived, including their full dental equipment, at Chiang Mai International Airport.

Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai West and the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai Thinthai Ngam, at Chiang Mai International Airport to welcome the Canadian dentists.

These dentists use their own private holidays, their spare time, their money and their professionalism to fly around the world as a simple act of kindness to show that even one individual has the power to create a difference. The project is aptly named Kindness in Action.

The ‘Kindness in Action’ group their with flower garlands around their necks, tired after the long flight but happy to be here.

And it will be a different feeling for at least 1000 people in rural areas in the north who will be provided with a dental check up, fillings and everything which belongs to the feared dental check-up.

These Canadian dentists are not Rotarians, but private practitioners who have already provided this service in South America and Africa before coming to Asia and now to Chiang Mai.

In conjunction with the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai West and the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai Thinthai Ngam they are currently in Fang and Lamphun to help children and adults at no cost to the patients, which will result in beautiful smiles of 1000 poor but dental caries free individuals.

Valentine Messages

To my sweetheart, Rasamee: thank you for giving me your heart and accepting mine in return! Your loving husband forever, Jack XOXOXOXOXO


Koh and “Baby” - we hope you stay as happy as you are right now.



Dearest Pui,

How do I love thee? I cannot count the ways!

Love, Ajarn Jack



Thank you for the time you stay with me, but don’t forget yourself.



David, whatever you do, I still love you!



David my Love, dear John, dear Howard, I love you all!



Dear David

Love is in the air, at least for the next 50 years.



Dear Frank,

Happy Valentine’s Day and congratulations on your retirement in May!

With love from your whole family


Many people search their whole life for that one person who will make them happy and whole. I am one of the lucky ones because I found you Becky and in finding you, I found myself. Happy Valentines Day!

All my love forever -Frank