HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Prakaidao Hovatanakul’s final flight

Ban Arunothai catching the tiger by the tail

Love Animal Day at Grand Lanna Hall

Prakaidao Hovatanakul’s final flight

36 years of dedication to THAI

Michael Vogt

Retirement is one of life’s major events. By that stage, everybody hopes that he or she will be healthy, fit, and surrounded by friends. Prakaidao Hovatanakul did not need to worry as she is all the above.

(From left) THAI president Kanok Abhiradee, Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat, Prakaidao Hovatanakul and new district sales manager Upper Northern region of THAI Tanawat Hiranyalekha.

After working 36 years for Thai International Airways (THAI) her retirement ceremony turned out to be a VIP Gala. The president of THAI, Kanok Abhiradee, revealed that he fell in love with Prakaidao 20 years ago and he really did not want to let her go, saying that he always admired this woman who was so lovely and tiny in looks but so strong in character and willpower.

An ocean of flowers by the end of the night

Prakaidao Hovatanakul’s career began with THAI as an air hostess, and worked not only in Thailand but in Australia and Germany. After reaching for the skies, her excellence on the flight deck was rewarded with the title ‘Miss Air Hostess Australia’.

16 years ago she came to Chiang Mai and tried her utmost as the District Sales Manager Upper Northern Thailand to promote Chiang Mai as the aviation hub of the north.

(Front left) Nivat Chantarachoti, THAI general manager Bangladesh next to Tanawat Hiranyalekha, new district sales manager Upper Northern Region of THAI and Kanok Abhiradee, President of THAI (far right) next to the guest of honour.

Her successor Tanawat Hiranyalekha said that it will be hard to follow in her tiny footsteps but he will try to continue her work and make THAI even more professional and successful with the move to the new premises in Suriwong Plaza.

Is this the start of a second career? The vocal duo of Kanok and Prakaidao with Imperial Mae Ping’s general manager on guitar…

The last ‘waltz’…

Kanok Abhiradee had another surprise present for the departing Prakaidao who will go on a trip around the world with THAI, a dream which so many of us have but can never accomplish. A present for 36 years of dedication, hard work, enthusiasm, and eagerness to achieve and complete commitment to ‘her’ company.

Ban Arunothai catching the tiger by the tail

A community success story

Nopniwat Krailerg

The border village of Arunothai has changed from being a former narcotics stronghold to a strong law-abiding community. Situated close to Kiew Pha Wog valley on the Thai-Burmese border in Chiang Mai province, Arunothai village has long been notorious as a drug trafficking rendezvous.

Consumer products from China and Myanmar on sale in the Ban Arunothai market.

However, its bad reputation has declined steadily since the military forces entered the area and implemented a community-strengthening process, where people are encouraged to oversee and control one other. As a consequence, there have been several changes in the village.

Hill tribe products on sale to visitors.

Residents of Arunothai village are ex-military personnel from the former Kuomintang Party from mainland China. They served in the 3rd Army Region’s 93rd Division led by General Lee Wern Phan and first arrived in Thailand in 1961. At that time, Ban Arunothai was known as Ban Nong Ook. Today there are 1,137 households in the village which has a population of 12,207.

Natural and green scenery along the roadside to Ban Arunothai.

In the past, clandestine gangs of drug traffickers lived in the village, and the residents were very afraid of these gangsters. Other problems included cross-border smuggling and illegal entry of alien laborers.

On Arunothai village, it is difficult to believe you are still in Thailand. People here have a similar lifestyle to those in China. In front of each house, people place a red piece of paper with Chinese characters in gold on it.

Most of the goods, like Chinese desserts, Chinese tea and other items, came from either mainland China or Taiwan. Goods manufactured in Thailand are rarely found here, except energy drinks or soda pop.

During the spread of drug use and trafficking in 2002, the Pha Muang Task Force used suppression measures to put pressure on drug traffickers inside the village and decrease their influence. In 2003, the Royal Thai Army sent a team of facilitators from the Army Coordinating Center for Royal Development Project and National Security led by Col. Atthaporn Bosuwan to work in the area.

This team conducted public relations with the community to raise their awareness about problems that existed. The team also worked together with people to strengthen their community.

As part of this, rules and regulations of the village were defined. A team of village security guards was set up, and people were encouraged to notify the authorities if they had information related to drugs.

There were several outcomes from this implementation. Village security guards were able to arrest drug users and traffickers. As punishment, their houses were torn down and they were banished from the village. The Community Strengthening Committee passed a resolution to close a local gambling house in the village and discontinue the selling of daily lotteries (Ma Kong Thee).

Today, some villagers in Arunothai village have even been given Thai citizenship. As they use the Chinese language every day, many of them go to Taiwan to work and send money back to the village - several millions of baht a year. The community then set up their own economic system. They established a Community Bank with 2 million baht as a working capital. People working abroad can remit their money to a branch of Krung Thai Bank in Chiang Dao district and such amounts can be withdrawn from the Community Bank inside the village.

Apart from the Community Bank, the Bio-Fermented Fertilizer Group was also established. They produce bio-fertilizers by using micro-organisms for fermentation. Most recently, a limited partnership was founded under the name of “Arunothai - Bang Chak” Strong Community Limited Partnership with a capital of 2 million baht. This partnership was set up to handle selling petrol. The volume of petrol used by motorists in this community and by tourists going to Doi Ang Khang is worth a total of 6 million baht per year, with average sales of 500,000 baht per month.

To get there, 70 km from Chiang Mai along Highway 107 (connecting Chiang Mai and Fang), you will come to Chiang Dao district. Off this main highway, on the left, take a smaller highway (1178, to Muang Ngai) and go for another 42 km. This will take you to Arunothai village located in tambon Muang Na in the same district. Driving along this smaller highway, you will pass Ban Muang Ngai village and a road on the left that goes to Wiang Haeng district which will take you further to Lak Taeng pass. You will also pass Ban Na Wai village and another road on the right that can take you to Doi Ang Khang.

Love Animal Day at Grand Lanna Hall

Wagging tails and purring pets win over hearts galore

Nopniwat Krailerg

It was a canine carnival and pet-lovers’ paradise at the Central Airport Plaza on September 25-26, as animal lovers took part in the third “Wan Rak Sat” (Love Animals Day).

Organized by The Rak Sat Overseas Pet Shop and the Animal (Pet) Lovers Club, the pet show drew a large crowd.

There was much to see, including the most handsome dog in town - in two categories, single or double, dog and owner - who were wearing the fanciest costume - both dog and owner as a pair? There was also competition for Thai Bangkaew and Lang Arn dog strains.

Cats were also being paraded, but no major incident of contestants’ cat and dog fighting was reported, nor were there any cat-calls as the pets took to the catwalk.

The judging committee of 30 was international, and included Kevin Percival from Australia and students from the Veterinary Faculty, Chiang Mai University.

The dog named “Classic” No. 062, owned by Chalermchai Kachornpraphasarn, took the grand prize for Best in the Group.

The opening ceremony at the Grand Lanna Hall in Chiang Mai was presided over by veterinarian Kamol Awaiyawanond.

(Above & Below) “Classic”, owned by Chalermchai Kachornpraphasarn, won the top award.