HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Nan province national park attracts tourists with rare flora and fauna

Anti-Communist insurgency battlefield becomes tourist attraction

Strolling European streets in the middle of Asia

Nan province national park attracts tourists with rare flora and fauna

Phitsanu Thepthong

The Chompoo Phukha or Bretschneidera sinesis is a rare species of tree found only in Thailand. This is now being used as a tourist attraction, said Poonsatit Wongsawat, chief of the Doi Phuka National Park in tambon Phukha, Pua district, Nan province.

Pulling a bucket of ‘salty water’ from the underground in Bor Klua village near the Doi Phukha National Park which was a sea 300 million years ago.

Normally, it is in full bloom during March and April. Now more than 700 trees have been planted under a cultivation project by park officials in the Doi Phuka Mountain.

High mountains around the Doi Phukha National Park are always engulfed by white clouds during the rainy season.

Poonsatit said that cultivation of the Chompoo Phuka in other parts of the country was not possible as the trees would die. However, one strain of the tree could be cultivated in Chiang Mai, in the Huay Namdang mountain range, but it has not yet blossomed.

Salt produced by the villagers in the Bor Klua district area, near the Doi Phukha National Park.

Apart from the Chompoo Phuka tree, a rare bird seen in the region is the Nok Tai Mai Sri Suay or Beautiful Nuthatch, of which there are only eight in Thailand.

“These have been drawing foreign tourists and visitors,” noted Poonsatit.

Some tree strains cultivated from the original Chompoo Phukha that were planted by Her Royal Highness Princess Galayani Vadhana at the Park.

The Doi Phuka National Park is located about 70 km north of Nan provincial town along Highway No 1080 (Nan-Pua). It is in the high mountains and covers a wide area with tropical green forests, the Pua River, caves, waterfalls and beautiful views.

Poonsatit said that a 218 million year old Nudularia scobinata (Carditidae) or a kind of shell sanctuary is also only found here. He said 300 million years ago this area was a sea. Nearby is the Bor Klua district which has salt water, and there is a salt production industry in the area.

The Chompoo Phukha or Bretschneidera sinesis tree is being promoted as a tourist attraction.

The Doi Phuka National Park’s visitor center has tourist information, accommodation, and a camping site. There are seven guest houses, for up to seven persons, tents and food shops. (For more information, please contact the Park Office, tel 054-701000-1).

There is a star-gazing observatory site at 1,464 meters above sea level, and a revered image of Phra Buddha Shinaraj Doi Phukha near the park.

Meanwhile, in the nearby Mae Charim district is the Mae Charim National Park, which is situated on the Nan-Mae Charim Highway No 11, where one can find a most interesting tourist spot, the Kaeng Luang Namwa.

He said the Namwa River is one of the five most beautiful spots in Asia for rubber-boat rafting. Elephant rides and camping facilities are also available. The river is situated in Ban Sai Moon, tambon Nam Pai, about 20 km from the Mae Charim district office. Rafting from Ban Nam Wat, tambon Nam Phang, about 10 km from the district office, is also recommended.

Camping in the Mae Charim National Park is available. (For more information, please contact Mae Charim district office on 054-769.050 or the park itself on 054-710136 ext 18.)

Anti-Communist insurgency battlefield becomes tourist attraction

Phitsanu Thepthong

It was on the famous battlefield at Ban Huay Koan where 17 Thai soldiers were killed and 24 were injured in fighting against communist insurgents in 1975. 42 communist insurgents also died.

The memorial built for the fallen soldiers at the Huay Koan base.

Ban Huay Koan, Chalerm Phra Kiart district, Nan province, has now been developed into a military museum containing weapons, uniforms, pictures, maps, and other paraphernalia. This former battlefield is located about 150 km. or three hours drive northeast of the provincial town of Nan.

In 1967, communist insurgents had spread throughout the districts of Nan province, especially in Ban Huay Koan. Between 1968-1970 the Pha Muang Special Task Force fiercely fought back and regained the areas occupied by the insurgents. Finally the 32nd Civilian, Police and Military Operations Unit, the biggest force at that time, moved in, backed up by troops from Chonburi who joined them at Tung Chang District, Nan to retake the villages from the communist insurgents. On April 9, 1975 the Ban Huay Koan military outpost came under heavy attack from the communist forces in the now celebrated battle.

The former Huay Koan military outpost is being developed as a Nan province tourist attraction.

However, the larger picture showed that insurgency was still happening, and in 1982 they resorted to guerrilla tactics, especially against the Pha Daeng forces. It was only in 1983 that the Thai government troops announced victory over the communist insurgents who were forced to surrender.

The Pha Muang Task Force’s First Calvary Regiment erected a statue in 1999 at the Huay Koan base in memory of the fallen soldiers. Suwachchai said this military base and memorial would soon be turned into a tourism attraction. For more information, please contact 054-710067.

The water truck that was ambushed and destroyed by the communist insurgents can be seen at the museum.

A Thai bunker which was the troop command.

The M60 machine gun was set up to fight in the trenches.

Chief Warrant Officer Nithat Kanitnoi, curator of the Huay Koan Museum points out the old ammunition and weapons.

Strolling European streets in the middle of Asia

A special feeling

Marion Vogt

Do you miss strolling the streets, sitting in street cafes with a carafe of wine or just go window shopping in old Europe? You do? Well, the perfect solution is the new direct flight to the old island of Macau from Bangkok flown by AirAsia, Thailand’s budget airline.

The Casino Lisboa, the oldest casino, but probably the only one where a little of the old flair is visible compared to the new cold modern gambling palaces.

Where else can you find something old, something new, some Asian, some European, some Brazil and something different all in the one place? It’s as modern as it can be, yet you can turn around a corner and find yourself in a completely different looking world.

Largo do Senado Square from the ruins of St. Paul’s to the main road. The wavy paving was created by Portuguese experts, turning the center of Macau into a pedestrian shopping paradise.

The most modern elegant shoe and clothes shops sit next to old-time Chinese cookie factories. Chinese smoked ducks hanging in almost every street, people chatting together and just 50 meters down the road, young hip Spanish looking people are invading the always present Starbucks Coffee Shop.

Authentic antiques and fine reproductions can be found all over Macau.

Macau is like walking through Disneyland without the rides. You can watch four centuries pass by in no specific order; see different cultures and traditions within a short distance and you can purchase almost anything.

This shop window could be anywhere but it reflects the modern lifestyle of Macau.

When you start your city adventure, make sure you leave those stilettos in your suitcase, get in your most comfy walking shoes, light clothes, and carry a big bag.

I cannot give you a tip on what you must see or must buy, as everybody has different interests, just make sure you bring somebody along (to carry your bags), that you have enough time on your hands and cash plus a credit card is very advisable. You have been warned!

Traditional cookies have that ‘taste of Macau’. Try them, they have a wonderful aroma and are best eaten fresh from the oven.

The Avenida Horta e Costa has shops selling smoked or dry food, traditional Chinese foodstuff and medicines. Dried mushrooms, shrimp, abalone and scallops you find anywhere, just follow your nose.

The Square of Coloane Island has mosaic paving and white and yellow neo-classical arches, and excellent open air restaurants, serving Chinese and Portuguese cuisine. The Chinese Christian chapel is in the background.

Santa Casa Di Miscricordia