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Palong, sakuro, simplicity and a day in the mountains

Vampires III - action movie shot in Chiang Mai

The new Japanese Consul-General introduced to Chiang Mai

Hash House Harriers hold annual “do” last week

Palong, sakuro, simplicity and a day in the mountains

Marion Vogt
Photos Michael Vogt

As all fairytales begin - Once upon a time some beautiful young angels flew down to earth. It was hot, the air was sticky and on reaching a mountain lake, they took off their wings to swim.

An unreal event - trenches, military and a small open air bar where a soldier sells coffee to monks who seriously discuss if they should buy a souvenir t-shirt to prove they were almost in Myanmar.

A hunter from a nearby village saw them, reached for his lasso and captured the rare creatures. That was the end of the angels. Palongs had to stay on earth and even today their women wear this lasso-like belt to remember that they actually came from heaven.

Michael Moreau hides in a trench a couple of meters below the ground where the borderline is still visible.

That’s the traditional side of the story and too beautiful not to pass on from generation to generation. Otherwise the village of Nor Lae would just be a reminder that you have reached the end of the world as it appears unchanged for centuries. You see it in the houses, unpaved streets, old women sitting on the porch and everybody wearing traditional, colorful, home-weaved skirts and tops, with the lasso belt.

Peter Dawson and his wife Anne from Chiang Mai plant sakuro flowers that will blossom in about three years’ time.

We passed this village on the way to Nor Lae Camp, a military outpost where just a few years ago daily fighting took place and hundreds of troops were deployed along the mountain border stretch. Now, it looks deserted and is more of a tourist spot where you can crawl along a trench, buy an army t-shirt for 300 baht and use binoculars to see what the Myanmar border guards are doing on the other side of no man’s land.

The lasso-like belt - the symbol of the Palong hill tribes.

But we had come for a different experience. We came up the mountain to help plant 1,000 sakuras, a Japanese cherry blossom tree, to transform the bare hillside into a pink dreamlike peak. The cherry (sakura) plant likes high altitude and cool weather, and its flowers need three years to blossom. Our group was full of spirit but a little short of breath when we reached the top, where a new meteorological station has been built and where our guides introduced us to a student group from Khon Khaen, Phitsanulok and Bangkok universities.

The new meteorological station on top of the hill, picturesque from far away.

Instructions were short. “Walk down the hill. Wherever you see a plant in a plastic bag, take it out and put it in the ground. The plastic bags will be collected later by another group.” That was it. No shovels (we had strong healthy hands), no garden equipment, back to nature. It was a fascinating morning, working side by side with hill tribe people, students, old and young. I counted six nationalities on our environmental mission.

We will come back in three years’ time to see if all the trees have flourished!

Michael Moreau and Prarina Khamlueng (Jim) are fascinated that it is possible to be so near a border where only three years ago fighting was the order of the day.

A villager’s house in Ban Nor Lae, near the border.

Nor Lae Camp, the end of Thailand.

Six different nationalities on their environmental agricultural mission. Students from different universities around Thailand getting first hand field experience.

Like centuries ago - a Palong woman weaving in front of her house.

Do you need to go to the bathroom? The toilet is open air but clean!


Vampires III - action movie shot in Chiang Mai

Marion and Michael Vogt

Vampires have appeared in films since the last century, when movie making began. Living Films, the Thai/American owned Chiang Mai production company with its Thai Producer Panyawadee Navarut Na Ayudhya and American local production manager Chris Lowenstein, are presently working on an international film of that genre.

Vampires III is a Hollywood movie with international actors Colin Egglesfield, Stephanie Chao, Patrick Bauchau, partially based in Chiang Mai and employing a huge Thai cast with professional actors Dom Hetrakul, Noppan Bonya and Jarun Petchjaereun. Names you might not recognize, but when you see their faces you are looking at well known Thai TV personalities.

Watching a whole night of action filming, it was very visible how skilled, concentrated and precise the crew was, in treating each situation and scene.

The story line involves an American couple (Connor and Amanda) traveling through Thailand. After an argument in Chiang Mai, Amanda meets Niran, a vampire biker who bites her, making Amanda a lost cause. Connor, wishing to save his girlfriend fights Niran, but loses. On the way he meets the beautiful ‘Sang’, and despite her being a vampire too, they fight side by side against blood thirsty hordes of vampires. Not only vampires, but professional vampire killers as well. Sang wants to end the life of vampires which can only be done once every 800 years during a rare solar eclipse. Connor and Sang battle alone to accomplish the impossible task of saving the world from a plague of darkness.

Will they succeed? We will know when the movie comes to the local cinema. You have been warned!

Director Mardy Weiss gives instructions to ‘Raines’ (Patrick Bauchau) who many might remember as Jodie Foster’s ex-husband in Panic Room.

Cameraman Rich concentrating shooting vampire slayer ‘Raines’.

The fight scene with Niran (left) against Connor while much fighting is going on in the background.

The stuntmen rehearsing while ‘Connor’ watches from the ground. The Chedi in the background is authentic studio work, done by Thai artists.

Stuntman or the real actors? This was the real thing when Connor fights Niran, the vampire biker.

‘Suwan’, in Thailand known as actor Noppan Bonya, is supposed to shoot the deadly weapon.

‘Kiko’ (right) a mysterious fighter in the movie practices with his double in between filming.

Cameras must be able to move very quickly as the action enfolds.

(From left) ‘Niran’, well known Thai movie star Dom Hetrakul, ‘Connor’ (Colin Egglesfield) and ‘Sang’ (Stephanie Chao from Los Angeles), watching the video taken on the set.

‘Connor’, the male lead of the movie, has a smile like Tom Cruise, but it is Colin Egglesfield (’12 Days of Terror’ 2003 or ‘Lost in Oz’ 2002).

Great stunt, powerful special effects, speed and very fit actors and crew are needed when these kinds of scenes are shot. Connor is shot backwards through a wall.


The new Japanese Consul-General introduced to Chiang Mai

Michael and Marion Vogt

The Japanese Consulate in Chiang Mai held a reception at the Tharathong II Ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel, to celebrate the opening of its new office. The Japanese Community is amongst the largest foreign communities in the north with over 1,800 Japanese residents. The function was also the official introduction of the new Consul-General, Katsuhiro Shinohara who will reside in Chiang Mai with his wife.

(From left) Suwat Tantipat, governor of Chiang Mai; HE Atsushi Tokinoya, the ambassador of Japan; HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani, president of the Royal Project Foundation and the new consul-general, Katsuhiro Shinohara.

The reception was a “Who’s Who” of the northern community. HE Atsushi Tokinoya, the Japanese Ambassador; Suwat Tantipat, Governor of Chiang Mai; HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani, President of the Royal Project Foundation; Dr. Jao Duan Dueng na Chiang Mai, the governors of Lamphun and Phrae, Boonlert Buranupakorn, Major of Chiang Mai; senators and honorary consuls, members of the House of Representatives, plus representatives of the media and local businesses were present.

The guests were a “who’s who” of the northern community.

The Consulate-General of Chiang Mai established on January the 1st this year has jurisdiction over the northern Thai provinces Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Lamphun, Phrae, Mae Hong Son, Nan and Uttradit.

A Consulate-General was needed to meet the increasing needs for consular services in Chiang Mai and nearby provinces, also to respond to the increasing demand for Japanese language and cultural exchanges.

Consul-General Katsuhiro Shinohara said that he is overwhelmed by the way people have welcomed him and integrated him in to the community. He said he will, together with his team, render the best service to the Japanese community and facilitate Japanese economic cooperation activities in Northern Thailand.


Hash House Harriers hold annual “do” last week

Story: Kiwi
Pictures: Michael Vogt

On May 7, the Chiang Mai Saturday Hash House Harriers held their annual dinner at the Chiang Mai Hills Hotel. Our host was Sanworn “Sunny” Santisuk, and the party turned out to sport formal format with elegant women and partners. The venue was a spacious area next to the hotel swimming pool (which, much to the surprise of most, did not become frequented during the party ...).

Wombat (Stephen Lewin) and Sangworn Santisuk, general manager Chiangmai Hill 2000 Hotel who sponsored the ‘door prize’ of the night: 2 nights at his hotel in Loei.

A Thai band was in attendance and supplied great music all night, both Thai and Western, for dancing or easy listening.

The annual awards were given out, plus “special” prizes, including 2 days at Sunny’s Resort in Loei, dinner for four at “The Tavern”, and assorted bottles of spirit for door prizes.

The buffet was of the usual high standard expected from the Chiang Mai Hills Hotel. Plenty of it, and good variety.

The dance floor was well attended and a very enjoyable time was had by all the well-dressed Hashers.

Women with taste were needed to find the most sexy man of the night. The award went to Mr. ‘Better Not’, (Rauner) by ‘Melle’, ‘Stickey Wicky’ and ‘Miss Piggy’.

The 5 lucky winners of a dinner for 2 at ‘The Tavern’ received a down down, too.

The Lady Drinking competition: 1/2 glass of beer, 1 hard boiled egg, 1 double Tequila, 3 slices of sugar melon, and another 1/2 glass of beer. Wombat explains but some are not so sure if they are up to it... Melle, the winner, is the 2nd from left!

Election of the ‘male piss-head of the year’ was held between, from left: Frank N Stein, Cool Balls, Head Hacker (John Shaller), Superman (John Lyons), and Wombat (Stephen Lewin). The competition was to see who could finish first: 1 glass of beer, 1 hard boiled egg, 1 double tequila, 3 slices of lemon, 1 banana and finished off with a glass of beer. The winner was: Wombat! He received, guess what: a glass of beer!

The old committee is fired! They do not look too sad about it!