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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

If life begins at 40 - it’s twice as good at 80

Ban Kwan Wiang buses are alleviating commuters’ needs

The Secret of Dreams - Do you have a dream?

Hospital looking for ‘exclusive’ patients

Art exhibition reflecting Sri Lankan and Thai Buddhist architecture

European Film Festival at Major Cineplex (Central Airport Plaza)

If life begins at 40 - it’s twice as good at 80

Bud Velat celebrates with friends

Michael and Marion Vogt

You do not care about your past, all you have are your memories, your future does not exist, but you have the present and your friends! That is how Bud Velat welcomed his friends who celebrated his 80th birthday with him at the Saenkham Terrace Restaurant.

It was quite a task to get everybody into the birthday photo.

He said he planned this birthday for a whole year and it almost did not happen because of an accident he had two months ago. But now he is recovering, full of spirit and treated this birthday as a nice and unexpected indulgence, especially as it was the first time that his two nieces could come from America to be with him.

The guests were as multi-cultural as Chiang Mai itself, the venue and the food very Lanna, and the mood light hearted and joyful. A special treat came with the extravagant “Green Tea Birthday Cake” when Tienchai Sooktiang, from the Voice Studio Chiang Mai, took over the microphone and thrilled the guests with a very special birthday song for Bud.

The old saying was again proved to be true - rich are those who have friends! And Bud has plenty!


Ban Kwan Wiang buses are alleviating commuters’ needs

Private enterprise succeeding while government dallies

Saksit Meesubkwang

Ten years ago, yellow and red buses were seen on Chiang Mai City roads - the routes divided between two concession holders. The yellow buses, owned by Chiang Mai Daily Transport Co Ltd, circulated around the city routes and stopped at educational institutions, markets and every hospital, and the passengers were students and ordinary citizens. The fare was 2 baht for children and 3 baht for adults, irrespective of distance.

Sanaporn Aksorbvanich, deputy manager of ACC Real Estate.

The red buses, owned by Prempacha Co Ltd, circulated on the highway routes. This company ran both air-conditioned and non-air buses. The fare for air-con buses was 3 baht for children and 5 baht for adults, and for ordinary buses 3 baht for everybody. Few people would use songtaews or tuk-tuks, as a bus would arrive within five minutes for waiting passengers.

Why did the Chiang Mai buses disappear? Simply because the two bus companies ran at a loss and the government did not show any interest in their problem. Eventually, both companies had to shut down, despite a widespread demand for them.

A bus stop in the housing estate.

However, since June last year, the owner of ACC Real Estate revived the bus operation to serve residents (and the public) in the Ban Kwan Wiang housing estate. These are the Ban Kwan Wiang air-conditioned buses (Por. 10) running around Chiang Mai City, with 69 bus stops at important destinations.

The buses start from Ban Kwan Wiang housing estate and pass in front of Central Robinson Airport Plaza and Shopping Center, Chiang Mai Airport, Chiang Mai Ram 1 Hospital, Yupparaj College, Waroros Market and Chiang Mai Bus Arcade.

Ban Kwan Wiang air-conditioned buses run from Ban Kwan Wiang housing estate to the city.

There are five buses altogether running at 30 minute intervals. At rush hour they run every 15 minutes. Every bus is air-conditioned and furnished with TV and VDO, and the fare is 10 baht per trip.

Sanaporn Aksorbvanich, deputy manager of ACC Real Estate, said that the bus operation has been introduced to serve not only the residents of the housing estate but also other Chiang Mai citizens, as it helps save fuel and alleviates traffic jams.

If the buses are full on every trip, the company plans to buy five more to meet the demands of students and the elderly, and to reward the community, she said.


The Secret of Dreams - Do you have a dream?

One of the largest Fund Raising Events of the Year will happen on June 5, 2004 at the Convention Center of Chiang Mai. The objective is: Do you have a dream? All people in this world have dreams and in particular children. But not all can make their dreams come true, because of poverty, disability, standard of living, diseases of their own or their parents, home environment, lack of educational opportunities and possibilities and many more. But there are charity organizations that support those children in giving them the opportunity to make their dreams come true.

The team and many volunteers of these organizations work hard - every day - and give their best to support children suffering from poverty, disabilities and those who would never have a chance of even basic education! These charity organizations need urgent funds if they are to accomplish these very worthy goals.

Subnotic Events, a new organization in Chiang Mai set up an exciting show with a variety of well-known performers who have experience on international stages, as well as new talents and newcomers. There will be a Kid’s Corner with a Magic Show, balloon twisting, face painting and The New Robot Man as well as many other children’s activities, also booths with delicious local food and beverages, artwork and local handcrafts. The children’s activities start at 3 p.m., the shows with over 80 performers will begin from 5 p.m. onwards.

Tickets are on Sale for 100, 200, 300 and 500 baht, VIP Tickets including Gala Dinner and fashion show are 1,000 baht and available from May 27 onwards at Subnotic Events, 4/1 Tapae Rd. Soi 4, Changklarn, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100, Phone: 053 207 141 or 09 433 4959 or 01 746 2068.


Hospital looking for ‘exclusive’ patients

An elite “Health Check-up Center” for elite patients

Saksit Meesubkwang

With Chiang Mai wishing to become a health hub, the Lanna Hospital responded by establishing a centre for Elite Cardholders. The centre, opened on May 21, will offer integral medical check-ups, and special examinations for patients at the hospital.

(From left) Chinese Consul General Katsuhiro Shinohara, president of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce Jumpol Chutima, Chiang Mai Vice-Governor Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, and Honorary Consul of Germany Hagen Dirksen open the “Health Check-Up Center”.

The center is fully equipped with medical equipment - including X-rays, ultrasound, exercise stress tests and EKG checks, with specialist doctors on duty. Clients who come to have medical check-ups are guaranteed that they will be provided all the services at the center in an exclusive venue. The hospital believes that both Thai and foreign clients will feel more satisfied.

Dr Dusit Srisakul, chairman of Lanna Hospital, also said that the hospital had expanded the service to outpatients, who make up the majority of the hospital’s clients, by opening a branch of the Geriatrics Center in the newly established building. This center would be capable of catering to more than a hundred patients a day.

Lanna Hospital is a general hospital which has been running for more than 28 years and has seen constant improvements, such as refurbishment in the inpatient and outpatient wards, investment in the latest medical equipment, and more specialized doctors providing an efficient 24 hour service.

At present, there are between 500-600 outpatients and 90-100 inpatients daily, a 50 percent increase over figures from three years ago.

Lanna Hospital has future plans to construct another building to meet the expansion of medical services for its patients. It will be able to cater for about 100 inpatients and have more hi-tech medical equipment, especially targeting foreign patients. The projected budget is estimated at 200-300 million baht and is expected to be launched in 2006.


Art exhibition reflecting Sri Lankan and Thai Buddhist architecture

Saksit Meesubkwang

Chiang Mai based photographer Angela Srisomwongwathana displayed her photography in an exhibition “The Influential Sri Lanka” at the A-Gallery on Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 1.

Eric S Rubin, the Consul General of the United State of America, presided over the opening ceremony of the exhibition, and over 50 Thai and foreign artists attended.

As a token of her appreciation, Thai artist Angela Srisomwongwathana presented Consul General Eric Rubin and his wife Nicole a photograph from the exhibition.

Her works follow the Buddhist path and the images show how the over 2000 year old civilization of Sri Lanka influenced Thai Buddhist architecture.

The photographs are in both black and white, and color, ranging from fine symbolic stone carving and world class fifth century frescoes in Sri Lanka to Sukhothai and Nakorn Si Thammarat.

As Thai art is inseparable from Buddhist art, this series of work will help in understanding the art and culture of Thailand.

The exhibition is open until July 22, daily from 4-7 p.m., and from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. during the weekends.


European Film Festival at Major Cineplex (Central Airport Plaza)

A chance for youngsters to understand there is a bigger world out there

Marion Vogt
Photos courtesy of EU

The EU brings its European Film festival to Thailand to show life in Europe and to create a better understanding in our globalized world. The EU film festival aims for a better understanding of the EU through cultural interaction.

‘Twin Sisters’, Lotte and Anna, Saturday, June 5 at 7 p.m.

As in past, the festival will bring some of the very best in recent European cinema to Thailand. All the films are highly acclaimed, having been shown at Europe’s most prestigious film festivals and will allow Thai audiences to experience the highly diverse nature of life within today’s EU. For students who are interested to study in one of the EU countries it is important to get a little insight in European culture. And what better way than to watch a movie? And for young people, who would like to see more of a country they have just watched in a movie, why not apply for a scholarship? The European Union offers some of the finest universities in the world. Member State Embassies or their cultural Institutes are more than happy to inform about the possibilities to study in Europe.

One of the highly acclaimed films is ‘Twin Sisters’ from the Netherlands whose original title was ‘De Tweeling’. A drama, directed by Ben Sombogaart, which will keep the audience alert for all its 2 hrs, 15 minutes. The story begins in Europe before World War 2. After their parents die, twin sisters Lotte and Anna are separated. Lotte grows up in the Netherlands and Anna in Germany. During the war they drift apart. Anna marries an SS officer, who is killed in action while Lotte’s Jewish fianc้, is murdered in a concentration camp. When Anna and Lotte meet shortly after, the rift appears irreparable. Fifty years later they meet again. Is reconciliation possible between the aged twin sisters?

There are also comedy and family movies being shown like ‘Thomas the Falconer’ from Slovakia, which has already won three awards (Chicago International Children’s Film Festival 2000; East European Film Festival in Cottbus and the 2001 International Film Festival in Cartagena). This promises to be 1 hour 36 minutes of family entertainment. 14-year-old Thomas has the gift of understanding animal communication. Following his father’s death, he must fend for his family and sets off for the mighty Balador’s castle. He meets and befriends Balador’s daughter Formina. However, a chain of events at the castle pulls him into a course of intrigue, from which he must use all his skills to extricate them all.

Drop by Major Cineplex and ask for a complete program and reserve your seats. For ticket reservations please contact Major Cineplex Chiang Mai 05 328 3939.