HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chakri Dynasty commemorated on April 6

A most happy birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Ballet Extravaganza - Nutcracker 2004

Baan Saen Doi - House of a thousand hills

Mysterious Mekong

Chakri Dynasty commemorated on April 6

Banks and businesses to close in observance of holiday

Chakri Day (April 6) was first instituted by H.M. King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) in the year 1919 to commemorate all the Kings in the Chakri Dynasty, which started with Rama I and continues to this day with Rama IX, H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great.

The reigning Kings in the House of Chakri brought peace and tranquility to the people within Thailand’s borders and successfully protected the Kingdom, maintaining sovereignty and integrity through crucial periods threatened by European colonization and two World Wars.

In commemorating “Chakri Day” the national flag is proudly displayed by the people of Thailand and both government officials and members of the community participate in traditional ceremonies, making offerings of flowers and garlands at the many statues of Kings in the House of Chakri.

The Chakri Dynasty, or the “House of Chakri” followed the reign of King Taksin the Great, when He abdicated due to poor health. The Chakri Dynasty was ushered in on 6 April 1782 when a close aid of King Taksin, General Chakri, marched back into Thonburi and assumed the throne as H.M. King Buddhayodfa the Great. Each Monarch thereafter has had “Rama” as part of their title.

Banks, government offices and most business offices will close on Tuesday, April 6 in observance of this special day.

Chakri Dynasty - Chronology of the present-day Dynasty of Thailand

King Buddhayodfa the Great (Rama I) 1782-1809

The first King of the Chakri Dynasty moved the capital city from Thonburi to Bangkok and built the Grand Palace that houses the Emerald Buddha. Helped release Thailand from Burmese control after Ayuthaya succumbed 14 years earlier.

King Buddhaloetla (Rama II) 1809-1824

The first great poet king of the Chakri Dynasty, renowned for his literature.

King Nangklao (Rama III) 1824-1851

Extensively encouraged international trading and education, enhanced promotion of Buddhism and built many temples.

King Mongkut (Rama IV) 1851-1868

Modernized Thailand in both commerce and education. Known as the “Father of Thai Scientists” and famous for his astrology.

King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V) 1868-1910

One of the most beloved and revered kings, He abolished slavery, extensively contacted the Western world, modernized the government, education, transportation, and communication. His diplomacy skills saved Thailand from being colonized during colonial period.

King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) 1910-1925

A great poet king. Continued the work of Rama V in modernizing Thailand. Promoted education and established the Boy Scouts in Thailand.

King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) 1925-1935

Granted the Constitution to Thailand in 1932. Thailand changed from Absolute Monarchy to Constitutional Monarchy.

King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII), 1935-1946

A direct grandson of King Rama V. Known as the father of modern Thai medicine.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (Rama IX) 1946 to the present

A true monarch of the people and guiding light for the whole Thai nation. Saved Thailand from many crises, dedicated to raising the living standards of the poor, especially in remote regions.

Rama I

Rama II

Rama III

Rama IV

Rama V

Rama VI

Rama VII


Rama IX

A most happy birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was born on April 2, 1955, the third child of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand.

HRH studied from kindergarten to high school at Chitralada School in Bangkok. She ranked first in the National School Examinations in the primary level (grade 7) in 1967 and in upper secondary level (grade 12) in 1972.

Ranked fourth in the National University Entrance Examination, HRH enrolled in the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, first class honor, and a gold medal in History in 1976. She continued her studies in two graduate programs concurrently, obtaining an M.A. in Oriental Epigraphy (Sanskrit and Cambodian) from Silpakorn University in 1978, and an M.A. in Pali and Sanskrit from Chulalongkorn University in 1980. She enrolled in a doctoral program at Srinakharinwirot University (former College of Education) in 1981, and was awarded a doctoral degree in Developmental Education in 1987.

The principle of using education as a means for community and social development, which HRH acquired during her doctoral studies along with her former experiences in the field, has provided her with a solid base for her subsequent involvement in community development activities.

In addition to her formal degree programs, HRH has attended several training courses and workshops to enhance her knowledge and skills in effective integrated development. These subjects include computer, cartography, meteorology, survey and photogrammetry, remote sensing and geographic information system and nutrition.

HRH has acquired first-hand experiences in working on development projects initiated by Their Majesties the King and Queen. These projects involve a number of diversified fields including health and hygiene, education, water resource development, agriculture and cottage industry by regularly accompanying Their Majesties on visits to remote areas since the age of sixteen.

From these experiences, she has developed special interests in agricultural extension to improve school children’s nutritional conditions; supports education from pre-school to tertiary levels; and mother and child care. She has also concentrated on helping the handicapped, especially in using information technology (IT) to develop independent living and learning skills.

HRH runs several philanthropic organizations and foundations. She has been Executive Vice President of the Thai Red Cross Society since 1977; Executive Chairman of the Chaipattana Foundation (in charge of His Majesty’s development and environmental preservation projects), Ananda Mahidol Foundation (to promote higher education), the King Rama II Foundation (to conserve and promote Thai Culture); President of the Sai Jai Thai Foundation (to support disabled veterans), Prince Mahidol Award Foundation (to award prizes annually to members of the international community for outstanding performances in the fields of medicine and public health); and Adviser of the Committee of Thai Junior Encyclopedia Project by Royal Command of H.M. the King.

HRH began her teaching career in 1979 when she started teaching the General Education Program at Chulalongkorn University. A year later, she joined the Department of Law and Social Sciences, in the Academic Division of Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. Presently she is Director of the Department of History, and has played an active part in revising its curriculum. She also supervises the Thai Music Club at the Academy. Occasionally she gives special lectures at several other institutions and regularly attends academic conferences and seminars both in and outside the country.

In addition, HRH represents Their Majesties in various royal functions. She also presides over ceremonies as well as other social and charity functions all through the year. In 1991, HRH was awarded the Magsaysay Award for Public Service.

HRH likes to travel around the Kingdom and abroad to obtain knowledge of physical geography and peoples’ varied lifestyles. One of her favorite pastimes is writing articles, poetry and short stories. Proceeds from her written accounts of her overseas travels are the main source of income for the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Foundation which was set up in 1979 to support needy students in schools, vocational colleges and universities.

HRH loves Thai literature and studies literature of other countries. She enjoys playing classical Thai instruments and practicing Thai classical dancing. She also paints and is keen on sports, including jogging, swimming, biking and trekking - which gives her an opportunity to learn about plants, trees and geographical features of the areas.

In addition to her knowledge of Pali, Sanskrit and Cambodian, HRH is communicative in both English and French and has been learning Chinese, German and Latin.

Ballet Extravaganza - Nutcracker 2004

Marion Vogt
Photos: Michael Vogt

Local ballet students, international dancers, popular Thai singer Maneenuch Smerasut and the Chiangmai Ballet Academy joined forces and proudly presented their third musical dance play ‘Nutcracker 2004’ at the Kad theatre.

Kad Theatre in Chiang Mai was the venue for The Nutcracker 2004, with proceeds being given to the Northern Mentally Retarded Welfare Center.

M.L. Preeyapun Sridhavat, Producer, Director and Choreographer introduced many baby ballerinas to the magical world of ballet. The Nutcracker provides children with a unique opportunity to learn new disciplines - punctuality, musical appreciation, stage presence, role characterization and choreographic memory, said M.L. Preeyapun.

Three flowers

The performance itself has been adapted to add ‘Thai spice’ and a greater variety of dance styles than one would see in the classical version. Nutcracker 2004 included not only classical ballet, but also contemporary, hip hop, jazz, tap, flamenco and Latin dances.

The basic story of the nutcracker remained the same: the child Clara was given a nutcracker doll by her godfather Drosselmeyer. The nutcracker turned into a handsome prince and conquers the rat king and takes her on a journey where snowflakes dance before they are welcomed by the Sugarplum fairy in the lands of sweets and desserts.

We will all become ballerinas when we grow up! Some of the ‘baby ballerinas’.

The leading dancers are outstanding, in particular Peera Phanlooktown, the Nutcracker prince, who is a highly accomplished professional dancer who left a lasting impression on the audience, after he performed a string of breathtaking leaps and jumps. Clara, played by Orawee Tadtieng, a dance teacher herself, is the quintessence of elegance and innocence. The Rat Queen, performed by Nootchanart Saiudom shows the style of a captivating dancer which makes her stand out. Sarassanan Chantharabart as the Sugarplum Fairy is so beautiful to watch and her grace and style show why she has won so many dance competitions in the past.

M.L. Preeyapun Sridhavat, producer, director and choreographer received flowers from Jao Duan Dueng na Chiang Mai after the performance.

With over 300 dancers and performers it is impossible to mention every single person but the overall impression the audience got was simply breathtaking. The costumes were dazzling and colorful, and the modernized story gave everybody in the audience their moment of joy and fun.

A powerful, joyful and colorful African dance with over 25 dancers.

The dances in the wonderland of sweets and desserts were from different countries and included Italy, Spain, Arabia, Russia, Thailand, America and Africa, with students and principal dancers leading from one highlight to the next. The Russian hip hop dancers with their whirls, artistic jumps and energy brought applause from the audience, as did the Flamenco performance with Supradee Wongsansee in the lead and her three followers dressed in red and black.

It was a colorful performance, with graceful pas de deux, the cutest children, innocent snowflakes, lovely flowers, divine elves and evil rats and ended where it began, with Clara waking up, wondering where fantasy ends and growing up begins.

‘All that Jazz’ is Broadway time!

Clara happily dancing with her nutcracker before he turned into a prince

Clara dancing with the Nutcracker prince, with the snowflake queen (Kara Scheuerman) behind.

Happy celebrations ‘Latin style’

So beautiful - it took your breath away!

A graceful pas de deux - no words are needed

Princess of Arabia (Rafaela Kraushaar) on her way to become a professional dancer.

Thai contemporary dance

Baan Saen Doi - House of a thousand hills

Tradition and Luxury

Marion Vogt
Photos by Michael Vogt

Indulge your spirit, body and mind, that is the slogan of ‘Baan Saen Doi’, the newest member of the growing spa society in Chiang Mai. Privy Councillor H.E. Palakorn Suwanrath and Khunying Dhasaniya Suwanrath presided over the spectacular Grand Opening ceremony and show last week. And a show it was!

Organized by the owner Wanphen Sakdatorn with many of her artistic friends such as Akadet Nakkabunlung and his Sbun Nga Show, it was a Lanna dream come true. Classic Lanna, mixed with hill tribe designs, packed in an extravagant setting of a light and sound show. For almost two hours, the guests were entertained and fed in a market style village street with vendors and food stalls.

H.E. Palakorn Suwanrath addressed Wanphen and her ‘newest baby’, the spa. He said, “Wanphen is a part of my family, she is like my little sister, a real child of the north and I hardly know anybody else who combines the love for Chiang Mai with the love for traditional Lanna and their hill tribes so much as she does. Both she and Hagen, who is like a brother-in-law for me, are not people of words, but people of action. They have a vision and they go for it.”

After the northern drum performance, the wooden gates were opened. The consul general of Japan, Katsuhiro Shinohara described it as “nourishment for my eyes”. At Baan Saen Doi, guests can take advantage of eastern and western massage techniques, skin care and exfoliation sessions and various skin treatments as well as hair and nail care. Baan Saen Doi promises a superlative experience. Personalized attention and private luxury is guaranteed. For further details contact 053 839 260.

From left Madame and Prinya Patong, Vice Governor of Chiang Mai; Eric Rubin, US Consul General; Hagen Dirksen, Hon. Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany; Suwat Tantipat, Governor of Chiang Mai; and Chumpol Jutima, President of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Chiang Mai Chapter.

H.E. Privy Councillor Palakorn Suwanrath and Khunying Dhasaniya Suwanrath beat the drum to officially open “Baan Saen Doi”.

Among the VIPs were US Consul General Eric Rubin and Chiang Mai’s Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn and his wife, being welcomed by Wanphen and Hagen Dirksen.

Wanphen Dirksen, left, next to Suthipong Chindasilp, Katsuhiro Shinohara, the new Japanese Consul General and his wife; Dr. George Sioris, former Greek Ambassador to Japan, Privy Counsellor H. E. Palakorn Suwanrath, and Hagen Dirksen, Hon. German Consul.

Khun Akadet’s most impressive Sbun Nga Show.

VIP arrival at Baan Saen Doi.

Pan, daughter of French Consul Thomas Baude, as one of the Sbun Nga models.

German Honorary Consul Hagen Dirksen thanking H.E. Palakorn for presiding over the opening ceremony.

The heavenly rooms for the various treatments.

What you normally see in the bathtub are the blossoms, not the beautiful girl!

The Reception area at Baan Saen Doi.

Mysterious Mekong

Photo Exhibition - Impressions from a Mekong Expedition

Marion Vogt

The Photo Exhibition - Impressions from Expedition Mekong was shown at the Sheraton Chiang Mai during the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Mekong Tourism Forum. The invitations to attend the opening of Reinhard Hohler’s photo exhibition came from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Bangkok and the Hon. German Consul in Chiang Mai, Hagen Dirksen.

Reinhard Hohler taking a short tour by hovercraft through the six countries.

Reinhard Hohler, the Tour Director of this ‘once in a lifetime’ trip said the exhibition was an event which he would not forget for a long time either! Despite a long period of preparation, with every item apparently under control, the panels to mount the photos and the lighting only arrived two hours before the opening and the exposition was finally finished one minute before opening.

Visitors listened attentively while Reinhard Hohler explained the 2,900 km journey.

MC Michael Vogt gave a short overview of Reinhard Hohler’s life, who is an expert in regards to Thailand and Asia, and who originally studied ethnology, geology and political science of South East Asia.

Just 30 minutes to go and there is still so much to be done.

Peter A. Semone, Vice President Development of PATA pointed out that this exhibition on a hovercraft through six countries down the Mekong River was not only the first ever hovercraft journey of this kind but also the first private sector tourism project ever to involve all six bordering nations and 2,900 km travel.

Katsuhiro Shinohara, consul general of Japan; Reinhard Hohler, Peter A. Semone, vice president development of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Hagen Dirksen Hon. German consul in Chiang Mai, cutting the ribbon.

Hon. Consul Hagen Dirksen declared the exhibition officially open and invited Peter Semone, Katsuhiro Shinohara, the new Consul General of Japan and Reinhard Hohler to cut the ribbon.

(From left) Very interested in the hovercraft adventure were Mohan Rao Gunti, Cambodian IT consultant and advisor for the ministry of information; Alex Brodard, director of Thailand Adventure Tours and journalist Jeremy Colson.

Reinhard Hohler explained the hovercraft trip from Day one in Simao Port, the northernmost point, from where the Lancangjiang or Mekong River is navigable down to Day 15, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. He described the obstacles in the journey; such as the need to refuel the 8 ton hovercraft every 300 km with 600 litres of gasoline. Another problem was the logistics in heaving the hovercraft out of the river onto a flatbed trailer in Don Khong Island to have it transported around the waterfalls and back into the water near the Cambodian border. He was very clear just how important is to have people with a vision around you, in this case Diethelm Travel being the main sponsor of this 21st century expedition.