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Chiang Mai’s Ruamjai Rescue Foundation - the people you never hope to need

300 teens participate in AIDS awareness parade

Chiang Mai getting ready for the MICE market

Chiang Mai’s Ruamjai Rescue Foundation - the people you never hope to need

Nopniwat Krailerg

A yellow pickup truck with emergency lights flashing, hurrying to the scene of and accident, is a sight that city dwellers here see too often. Most mutter a silent prayer of thanks that the victims aren’t themselves or their families.

M. R. Charoensuk Suksawat reporting on the rescue operations.

However, 59,800 victims during 13 years of assistance have reason to thank this rescue organization.

M.R. Charoensuk Suksawat, chairman of Chiang Mai’s Ruamjai Rescue Foundation, told Chiangmai Mail that the more than 500,000 motorcycles in crowded Chiang Mai cause many accidents, but originally the city lacked emergency help to get the victims to hospital. With this problem in mind, the Ruamjai Rescue Foundation was established to provide assistance to victims of all disasters, similar to the Por Tek Tueng Foundation in Bangkok.

Yellow rescue vehicles are ready to roll at the foundation center in Chiang Mai.

With the required approvals and permission granted on August 2, 1990, the foundation was incorporated and became operational.

Currently, the vehicles they use include six rescue pickups, one six-wheel truck, one rescue truck equipped with special tools, and one dump truck. The rescue team keeps watch on the accident scene around the clock, every day, and works in 12-hour shifts.

Chiang Mai’s deputy governor, Prinya Panthong chaired the event.

To be able to function in an emergency situation, the foundation is dependent on cooperation from Ruamjai Walkie Talkie Radio Station, and receives requests from police. In its 13 years of operation, the foundation has assisted almost 60,000 victims of traffic accidents, flood, fire and other disasters or tragedies.

Muang district officer, Chumporn Saengmanee (2nd right) presents a basket of flowers to congratulate M. R. Charoensuk Suksawat (2nd left).

What is often not so well known is that the foundation is funded by public donations and funds raised by residents to help cover the expenses of salaries, petrol and maintenance of vehicles and equipment. Those who acknowledge the missions of the foundation can make donations at the foundation office and receive a donation certificate.

Sometimes the foundation even needs to rescue themselves, especially when motorists won’t get out of their way.

A recent foundation operation report revealed that, just during the month of January this year, 225 victims were assisted (86 women and 169 men). 18 men and one woman died. The accident ‘black spots’ are the branch road on Nimmanhaemin Road, as well as around the Juvenile Court (12 cases), Santitham Road and the side road around Nongpratheep (10 cases). Motorcycle accidents constitute the majority in Chiang Mai.

M.R. Charoensuk Suksawat (left), chairman of Chiang Mai’s Ruamjai Rescue Foundation, led the merit making ceremony.

The foundation this year held a ceremony marking their 13th anniversary, which they included with a ceremony to reduce bad luck and prolong life (called Sueb Chata) for all victims, presided over by the deputy governor of Chiang Mai, Prinya Parnthong.

24 hour emergency assistance from the foundation is available at 053 218 888 and 053 416 666.

One of the rescue teams practicing at a simulated airport accident.

Time is of the essence during all rescue operations.

300 teens participate in AIDS awareness parade

Linda Ratchai

300 young people from Thailand and neighboring countries paraded along the city streets to promote awareness on AIDS to the Chiang Mai youth and general public. The parade went through the red-light area of Loy Kroh Road to the night bazaar.

The procession started from the DK bookstores, with all the teens wearing white T-shirts with the slogan ‘Access For All’, red ribbons and flags (the AIDS symbol), campaign placards, condoms and information leaflets on AIDS prevention for teens and everyone.

Withun Wongthip, a nurse from the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, was the chairperson at the ceremony. He said this activity was held to teach about working with AIDS and was in preparation for the 15th International AIDS Conference July 6-11 this year in Bangkok.

After the launch there was a stage play performance entitled ‘Rao Kue Look Khong Tan’ (we are your children) to promote safe sex. After that, there were discussions the subject of AIDS.

The AIDS symbol: the red ribbon flag

Safety first!

Asking for some opinions were Weerawut Khamkhum from Rom Run Intanin Youth Group, Buriram Province (left) and Manu Marksu, (right).

What are they looking for? One of the scenes from “Rao Kue Look Khong Tan” (we are your children).

Northern youths show support for the upcoming 15th International AIDS Conference to take place in July this year in Bangkok.

Northern youths enjoyed taking part in the AIDS awareness parade.

Chiang Mai getting ready for the MICE market

The Second City aims to be the First Cheese

Marion and Michael Vogt

Shane K Beary of Track of the Tiger has some very definite views regarding the positioning of Chiang Mai in the MICE market (Marketing, Incentives, Conferences, Events). He cites Price, People, Product, Events and Team building opportunities as the reasons.

“Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee made it! Great job!”

Shane took time out whilst he was in the middle of running a team building program for the Tel Aviv based IT company Comverse with 225 participants, part of his company’s events in this lucrative MICE market.

Shane Beary, MD of ‘Track of the Tiger’, the company which organized this MICE event, was always on hand to give good advice how to achieve the goals.

He said that destinations like Chiang Mai had to undertake an honest evaluation of their appeal to the MICE market, then use their advantages to forge a niche with a product that was competitive, diverse, and had its own distinctive character. “Chiang Mai,” he enthused, “has a great deal to offer,” and explains it as follows:

Certain team comrades went out of their way - literally!

The Price - With 4 and 5 star hotel rooms, and MICE related services priced some 30-40 percent lower than those offered by hotels in Bangkok or the south, Chiang Mai hotels can offer the same if not better standard of product, at extremely attractive prices. The MICE client can either save money, or can get a great deal more for the amount he or she has budgeted for their event. Regional access, aided by the low cost airlines, together with the city’s planned status as a regional aviation hub makes the product even more competitive, and local access to hotels, restaurants, meeting centers, shopping areas, makes it possible for an organizer to spread an event over several facilities, building in local color to the overall event.

International cooperation at all levels.

The People - Anyone who spends even only a few days amongst the people of the north will concede that they are in fact the area’s greatest tourist attraction. Thais are naturally charming people but nowhere is this more evident than in the old Lanna capital. The non-confrontational doctrine of Buddhism is perhaps more evident here than in other parts of the Kingdom. Visitors, perceptive enough to feel it at work when dealing with the local people, will no doubt give serious thought to the way they interact with their fellow man once they leave this place.

It’s a leaking pipe, and the teams had to use their fingers to fill the holes, whilst other were filling-in water to make a little ping-pong ball float.

The Product - As it pertains to the MICE market can be described as follows: Pre or post event - The spa and health packages available in the north rival those of any other parts of the Kingdom in terms of quality, and because of the low pricing almost certainly exceed them in terms of value for money. The same value for money advantages apply to such things as annual medical check ups, on which a corporate client can make considerable savings over the cost of having staff do them at home, or in regional bases. Dental work, plastic surgery, hair transplants and more, are all low cost services available from top class overseas trained, English language proficient medical staff. Shane Beary pointed out that his own company is currently working closely with Ajahn Kannika Phornphutkul M.D. of the Rajavej Chiangmai Hospital, also president of the Northern Spa and Health Product Association, in packaging the wide range of attractive ‘health-medical’ service options for the MICE industry.

Make water boil - start a fire with basically nothing ...

Events, theme parties etc. - The group which is here now for example had a traditional welcome dance, and then under the direction of a famous local music professor, Ajahn Solot Kuptarat and his assistants, the group were given bamboo musical instruments and then, in a crash course of less than fifteen minutes, were transformed, from a mob wielding wooden objects into a ‘bamboo orchestra’ - that could actually make music. One of their awards dinner functions included a stunning solo performance from the Phantom of the Opera, by Ajahn Tianchai Sooktiang of Voice Studio (Local Personality CMM Vol 12) - who often performs for the Royal family.

It looks like a floating bin, but it demanded skills to move it out of the square. The teams were not supposed to touch it, but just use ropes instead.

Another night was set in the beautiful setting of Sawai Riang. Designed, owned and managed by Phairoj Kosumkachonkiat, the authentic ‘Kad Mua’ (northern market) buffet dinner is meticulously accurate in detail, right down to the employment of the ‘village elders’ who make, and then serve the dishes. Classic northern dancers float between the tables with effortless grace. The market dinner is followed by a sound and light show, played out on a floating village in the centre of the lake.

This one’s called “Ravine crossing” - it doesn’t only look dangerous! But with team effort, one can do it.

Team building and adventure incentives - The north is an adventure playground and with a little creativity, companies like Shane Beary’s, can provide events ranging from ice breaker level team building programs that are designed to highlight the city’s attractions, to team training, executive retreats and the far more extreme jungle survival challenges.

With all that it has going for it, Chiang Mai has an added attraction that may in fact prove to be its biggest draw. The last few years have seen an explosion in home decor, fashion accessories, clothing, furniture and handicraft shops all over the city, selling world class product at unbelievably low prices. The city is well on its way to becoming the premier ‘shopping’ destination in South East Asia. Top class promotional tools like the Chiang Mai ‘Street Directory and Shopping Guide’ with its world wide distribution and free copies to the MICE industry’s movers and shakers will do a lot to make it happen.

Ski walking - it’s like one shoe fits all. The challenge, however, was the coordination of the movements of the team members.

Asked as to how he saw his company’s role in developing Chiang Mai as a MICE destination, Shane Beary was quite emphatic, “With 18 years experience in adventure incentives, student educational programs, up-market adventures, ‘Track of the Tiger’ was now embarked on a development program that would establish them as the ‘local expert’ for MICE organization in northern Thailand.”

For further details contact Shane K Beary email [email protected]

Perfect harmony was performed by the water-ballet dancers of Tianchai Sooktiang’s dancers, much to the enjoyment of the 250+ audience during dinner time.