HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Rain does not dampen Muslim Anti-Drug Sport Challenge

Meltdown for Farangutans

Chiang Mai Pool league

Five local footballers getting closer to their goals

Ex-MBA CMU students’ fun rally

Taekwando competition at month’s end

The exhilarating mechanics of insanity that got us river tracing at Doi Saket

Chiangmai SportRoundup

Rain does not dampen Muslim Anti-Drug Sport Challenge

Kaweeporn Wachirarangsiman

The opening ceremony of the 6th Northern Muslim Association Anti-Drugs Sports Challenge was carried out at its scheduled time at 5 p.m. on May 7, regardless of the drizzling rains, damp amphitheatre and drenched football field.

Nice smiles and waves, from everyone who has turned their back on drugs.

“Youth is the most important force of the nation. I am delighted in seeing all Muslims coming from the seven northern provinces gathered harmoniously,” said Prinya Panthong, deputy Chiang Mai governor, presiding over the event.

Sepak takraw between Chang Klan A and Nong Ban A teams in the first round.

Despite a mushy surface underfoot, the parade was high spirited, with girls and boys carrying the anti-drugs posters.

After the ceremonies the parade left the stadium, and a special football match kicked off in the rain between teams of Muslim seniors and local press, both TV channels and newspaper publishing houses.

The members of different mosques sat in the amphitheatre, with flags and balloons.

The successful opening ceremony of the 6th Northern Muslim Association Anti-Drugs Sports Challenge reflected the collaboration of Chiang Mai Muslim Sports Group with the Northern Muslim Association and reflected the harmony between Muslims in the north.

Meltdown for Farangutans

Colin Hinshelwood

Last Saturday’s Chiang Mai Senior League fixture saw our winsome and cuddly farang all-stars take on the nasty, despicable ruffians of San Kampaeng F.C.

Soon after leaving the cool lunchtime ambience of the U.N. Irish Pub (a subtle yet subliminal pro-mo for our team sponsors) and travelling out to Hang Dong for the 2:30 kick-off, our benevolent and wise coach, a.k.a. me, realised that a tad of “Tinkering” was going to be necessary for the day’s encounter.

Firstly we were short of players and had to draft in a new face, Dave, a 40-year old teacher from Grace International School. Secondly, the weather. It was a scorching afternoon and some of the team looked burnt out just tying their shoelaces. We were going to have to adopt an Italian-style passing game, played at a snail’s pace in order to last the full 90 minutes.

We had previously beaten San Kampaeng who was some eight places behind us in the league. But, as always, surprises were in store.

The game began slowly like a chess match, both teams holding possession and not letting anything through. Prior to the match the entire Farangutans team had competed in a penalty competition, rifling spot-kicks at Marky Flowers until Masao emerged victorious as the new designated penalty-taker. It was to be a big day for Masao, a Japanese-American who devotes the rest of his time to preventing dam construction in Southeast Asia. Despite having been injured the week before, splitting his chin wide open, the courageous dambuster turned up to play with a grinning scar on his chin and a bandaged head. Playing in his favourite Luis Figo role out wide, Masao linked one-twos with James and Shawn, wove threads of confusion through the San Kampaeng defence and launched cross after cross into the danger zone.

The first half ended 0–0 but the Farangutans were confident in spite of the sweltering heat and some niggling injuries. In the second half we did everything but score: Shawn shot just over from 25 yards, Dave had a header well saved by the excellent San Kampaeng goalie, who then tipped over a shot from Hinsh which looked destined for the top corner.

Against the run of play a dubious foul was called and the nippy San Kampaeng winger stole in behind our defence to score. Minutes later they added a second and the game was settled. The Farangutans battled on against the odds and against sunstroke but to no avail. San Kampaeng won 2–0.

Mai pen rai. Next week we are playing Sua Mon Chon who after 10 games has not won a single point in the league and has conceded some 43 goals.

If anyone – and I mean ANYONE – is even slightly curious about our hapless but happy football team, you are welcome to come and support us. What the hell, we’ll even give you a free season ticket. Check out our zany website, which even now boasts a Spot the Ball competition. We’re on:

Chiang Mai Pool league

Five local footballers getting closer to their goals

Stefan Effenberg impressed by Chiang Mai young talent

Marion Vogt

“What a great success!” These were the words of world-renowned footballer Stefan Effenberg at the end of the first day of a football talent search, in Chiang Mai.

Stefan Effenberg and the honorary German consul to Chiang Mai was one of the few ‘official’ photos taken during the day.

Effenberg is former captain of Bayern Munich FC, one time Champion League winner and three times German Championship winner, who has decided to establish his own Asian Football Academy in Thailand.

Five children between the ages of nine and 14 years from the north were outstanding and caught Effenberg’s eye. “These children saw their chance and I saw the fire of the tiger in their eyes. I especially liked that so many parents were sticking around to support the youngsters. I really look forward to come back soon. Despite the tremendous heat, these five children I noticed were exceptionally talented and promising. He made the statement at the start of a 31 city road show, searching for future football talents.

“I am positive that we will find many more young Thais with great football potential in the weeks to come. I want to ask all parents who think their child might be the one, to come along when the road show is in a city near you.”

The next cities the Football Talent Search will visit are Lampang (May 15), Utaradit (May 22), Tak (May 29) and Phitsanulok (Jun 12).

Ex-MBA CMU students’ fun rally

CMU to Tambon Thaton in Mae Ai

Autsadaporn Kamthai

The two-day Ex-MBA CMU students’ fun rally began at the weekend of May 8, with Dr Tanun Anumanrajadhon, vice president of Chiang Mai University (CMU) together with Assoc Prof Sirikiat Ratchusarnti, deputy dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, presiding over the starting ceremony.

The two day Ex-MBA CMU students’ fun rally began at the CMU campus and finished at Thaton in Mae Ai.

The rally ran from Chiang Mai University to Thaton in Mae Ai.

The Ex-MBA Family Rally 2004 was organized by the Ex-MBA Club of the Business Administration Faculty, CMU, which was combined by business persons and entrepreneurs who graduated with a masters degree from the Business Administration Faculty.

Any proceeds from this rally will be used for the establishment of the Ex-MBA Club which would further work to arrange activities to support and develop learning within the faculty. Additionally, part of the funds will be spent in purchasing educational equipment and a grant to Ban Mai School in Chiang Dao district and a school in Chai Prakan district.

Taekwando competition at month’s end

Jiraphat Warasin

The Taekwando section of the Chiang Mai Sports Association is planning a championship for the end of this month.

Together with Chiang Mai Physical Education College, they are organizing the “2nd Taekwando C.P.E.C. Championship” at the Chiang Mai Physical Education College building on May 28-30.

Ajarn Dusit Sookprasert said this competition is for novices and would be divided into four categories.

The first class is for Thai boys and girls eight years old and younger, for boys and girls between the ages 9-11 years, and those between 12-14 years old.

The second class is for Thai youths, both male and female, aged between 15-17 years.

The third class is of common novice players, both male and female and the fourth is of common players.

The winner, first runner-up and second runner-up in each section would receive a gold, silver and copper medal respectively and a certificate. There will also be prizes for best players, both male and female, in each class, and for clubs winning total points, to be awarded by the director of Chiang Mai Physical Education College.

The exhilarating mechanics of insanity that got us river tracing at Doi Saket

Antonio Graceffo

Ask any of today’s great adventure writers - Tim Cahill, Paul Theroux, or Robert Young Pelton - and they all agree on one point: “It’s been done before.”

Basically everything on this planet which can be done, has been. And even more extreme is that with package tour operators making the most remote corners of the globe accessible to everyday people, this includes even formidable activities like climbing. Scaling the Himalayas is an option for the average tourist (more accurately, the average tourist with $60,000, the price of a guided ascent up Everest).

In this type of climbing, you use carabineers tied to your rappelling harness, to clip into the loops, working your way down the rope, and back up.

You can’t be first to row across the Pacific. A teenager has reached the South Pole. Wilfred Thesiger already crossed the Open Quarter of the Sahara, more than once. And my neighbor, Mimo Palmentera, who makes pizza back in Brooklyn, has summated Mount Kilimanjaro.

So when that once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something new came my way, I jumped at it.

On one of those sleepy, dull Chiang Mai mornings, when you drink a three-in-one coffee and feel you couldn’t possibly even look at another elephant ride or bungee jump, I opened my e-mail and found a message from my good friend (and in this case, savior) Kevin Shane Barry, owner of Track of the Tiger Tours.

He asked whether I would like to go, as part of a two-man team, to be the first people ever to trace the river at Doi Saket.

The rope is there for safety, not to help you climb.

I jumped at the chance. Not only would the project renew my interest in life - I had been considering hanging myself just as a change of pace - but it would team me up with Shane’s right-hand man, Reinier, who had been my adventure partner in an infamous canoe trip on the Maekok River, and who will be accompanying me on an even more infamous trip down the entire Mekong, as soon as we can find someone foolish enough to pay our way.

Clinging to the slippery rocks, making your precarious way up a vertical slope, with countless gallons of water rushing by you, threatening to tear you off, is one of the most exciting activities you could ever engage in.

Although river tracing is a fairly new sport in Thailand, it has been known for years in Europe and the USA. Most people confuse river tracing with white-water rafting, or they at least assume that there is some sort of a boat involved. But they couldn’t be further from the truth.

Lack of speed is attributed to the constant force of water impeding your forward movement.

To understand the phenomenon of river tracing is to understand the mechanics of insanity. Everyone has heard the stories about that maniac Captain Webb who rode over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Outwardly, we say he is crazy. But down deep, doesn’t plunging down all that white water sound like a good time?

But have you ever considered going up a waterfall?

River tracing, as I say, is a new sport where not only do you climb up the waterfalls, but you climb up and over every rock and obstacle in the river, tracing it to its source.

Once you have donned your equipment, consisting of a swimsuit, life jacket, helmet, kneepads, rubber boots and a rappelling harness, it’s time to get wet. The best way to get into a cold river is to simply jump off a bridge. You’re going to get soaked head to toe, anyway, so you might as well just go for it. Taking that first step is a bit counter-intuitive, but like any other controlled fright, it is a rush, and once you hit that ice-cold water, you’ll feel energized.

Reinier and I entered the river during the dry season, so we weren’t exactly inundated with water. There was no swimming involved, but the low river presented other problems, as we had to scale, rather than swim over even the smallest stones. Spending long periods of time in the jungle can be a bit depressing as you can see neither the sun nor the sky, because of the canopy of dense foliage overhead.

Tracing wide rivers has the benefit of being able to see the sky. Tracing a narrow river, like the one at Doi Saket, and running through a typically overgrown Thai jungle, you quickly realize that the river is the only way to go. Attempts to walk beside, or even to get out of, the river will be thwarted by a thick tangle of jungle vines.

But have you ever considered going up a waterfall?

In addition to our normal river tracing gear, we also needed to carry machetes. We felt like real Tarzans as we hacked our way up the river. Every river has its own personality, and progress was very slow.

In most rivers the lack of speed is attributed to the constant force of water impeding your forward movement. But at Doi Saket, the problem was the vegetation, which hung down from above. We were constantly getting tangled in thorns, vines and spider webs. And, of course, in Thailand, before grabbing or cutting a vine you want to make sure that it isn’t a man-eating snake.

The vines themselves can be fairly formidable, as almost every living thing in Thailand is covered with thorns. Gloves would probably have been a good addition to our gear.

The best part of river tracing is climbing up the waterfalls. Clinging to the slippery rocks, making your precarious way up a vertical slope with countless gallons of water rushing by you, threatening to tear you off, is one of the most exciting activities you could ever engage in.

Constantly getting tangled in thorns, vines, and spider webs. And, of course, you want to make sure that it isn’t a man-eating snake.

At Doi Saket, however, we came to a huge waterfall, probably over a 100 feet high. Since we had no back-up team, we decided to play it safe, and hike up the back side of the fall, then climb down, and back up with direct assist (climbing the rope, instead of the rock).

In normal rock climbing, you are only supposed to put your weight on the rock face. The rope is there for safety, not to help you climb. But in river tracing, it is perfectly legal to use the rope to pull yourself up. Reinier and I used a basic climbing technique, called stirrups, where we first anchored one end of the rope to a tree. Next, we tied loops in the rope, at eight foot intervals, until we ran out of rope. When we finished, we threw the rope over the side.

“I’ll go first.” I volunteered, as we peered down the cliff. There was a bit of an outcrop which prevented us from seeing the end.

“What if the rope didn’t reach the bottom?” asked Reinier. “We could slip right off the end.”

“Good point.” I agreed. “You’d better go first.”

“You’re not scared, are you?” asked Reinier.

“At my age, I could dislocate a hip,” I answered.

In this type of climbing, you use carabineers tied to your rappelling harness, to clip into the loops, working your way down the rope, and back up. Once I saw that Reinier made it back to the top safely, I felt it would be repetitive for me to complete the climb. So, I went down far enough to make the photos look exciting.

By the time we finished with the waterfall, shadows began to grow long. Although we hadn’t reached the source of the river, we decided that it might be prudent to turn back. Both being experienced woodsmen, we hadn’t bothered to take a compass or a map. Of course, this meant that we walked in circles for several hours. But this was okay with me because I really need to lose weight, and I hate the stair-master at the gym. It’s too repetitive.

“Well, we did it!” I said, triumphantly, when we finally reached the car, seconds before the last light would have left the evening sky, sentencing us to spend a very uncomfortable night in the jungle, with no equipment.

“Did what?” Asked Reinier.

“We were the first people to have the opportunity to trace the river at Doi Saket to its source.”

“But we didn’t find the source.” said Reinier, dejectedly.

“Yes, but we were the first people to HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY.”

When it comes to adventure, I’ll take any first I can get.

If you want to go river tracing, it is best to go with an organized tour group, because they will have proper equipment, and knowledge, and they won’t get lost. Reinier and Shane promised that they’d take good care of you. If you would like to read about Reinier and me kayaking the entire Mekong River, please send us a check. Contact the author at: [email protected] or Shane and Reinier at: [email protected]