Bus travelers increase as fares pegged
Chiang Mai bus station warns tour agents not to increase bus fees
Tickets sales booked before the Songkran festival have
increased by over 30 percent as many tourists, both Thai and foreigners,
will visit us, plus Chiang Mai migrant labor will return to visit their
families during the festival. Consequently, Chiang Mai Arcade domestic bus
station has set up centers to accommodate passengers for 24 hours during the
Songkran festival, and is going to check all buses before leaving the
Chiang Mai provincial transportation office will be
responsible for keeping accidents to a minimum and to ensure passenger
safety by checking the bus driver before he takes the wheel. This policy is
especially applied during Songkran festival, as it needs all sectors to
cooperate to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities.
Tour bus agencies are not supposed to increase fairs
during holiday periods, but they can present a request if necessary on a
Chiang Mai provincial transport office has prepared 300 reserve buses to
carry the large number of travelers during Songkran festival, both in and
out of the Chiang Mai bus station. It is calculated that 850 buses would
leave the station daily.
April temperatures to exceed 42 Celsius
Time to crank up the air-conditioners
Temperatures in several northern provinces, including
Mae Hong Son, Lampang and Phrae, have risen past 40 degrees Celsius,
while residents in Chiang Mai and Lamphun are trying to escape the hot
weather by walking through department stores. Waterfalls are also full of
visitors during the weekends, and ice purchases are booming.
The highest temperature was measured in Tak province
at 42 Celsius, but there are still clouds despite the hot weather, plus
thunderstorms in some areas. Mae Hong Son is cloudy, hot and humid.
Rakchai Srinuan, weather forecaster at the Northern
Meteorology Center, said that a low pressure trough covered the north of
Thailand, sustained by south-easterly and southern winds. This has led to
hot weather in the day and thundershowers in some areas.
This brush fire weather, in addition to weed burning
in Mae Hong Son, has lead to continual forest fires, causing smoke to
cover the province. It is reported that there are about 70,000 patients
suffering with pulmonary disease and it is feared that this number may
increase if the hot weather continues. In addition, there is a risk of
traffic accidents due to poor visibility.
Chiang Mai spends millions on Green and Clean project
30 million baht will be spent on the development and
improvement of former San Kamphaeng district office, now know as Kwuang San
Kamphaeng, to develop Chiang Mai, and to support tourism according to the
“Green and Clean” policy.
Prinya Panthong, vice governor of Chiang Mai and the
leader of the project, said that a budget of 75 million baht had been
approved. Kwuang San Kamphaeng would be a center to organize activities such
as stage performances, SMEs and OTOP goods displays, a center point of local
trade, and a conference building for residents.
The balance of 45 million baht will be spent on
developing the canal around the city, renewing the perimeter walls of the
Hai Ya fortress on Wualai Road and developing public parks including a
community as a living record of Chiang Mai history. Encroachers on the area
have already been repulsed.
The vice governor added that the Green and Clean project
is not only for making Chiang Mai beautiful, clean and green, but to also
protect ancient sites, culture and artifacts, to maintain these traditions
for Chiang Mai province, and to encourage tourism.
EGAT and local residents again in conflict
Locals want CMU to research environmental problems
Saksit Meesubkwang and
On March 28, Rianchai Uankham, the president of Networks
of Nature and Environment Protection in Wiang Haeng district, together with
17 members of his flock, presented a petition to the president of Chiang Mai
University, requesting them to continue researching the effects of the Wiang
Haeng development project towards the environment.
Prof. Dr. Thanan Anumanrachathon, of CMU receives the petition.
This came about after the Electricity Generating
Authority of Thailand (EGAT) had found about 20 million tons of lignite,
which could produce electricity, but local residents and NGOs had opposed
the project, citing adverse environmental impact.
The petition requested CMU to continue researching the
effects, be they positive or negative. Therefore, ten network sectors, all
of them Wiang Haeng residents, had gathered to support the research to end.
Then, the local residents could consider supporting the project or not.
Rianchai Uankham said that 70 percent of Wiang Haeng
residents wished CMU to continue, but did not want findings supporting the
development project. If the lignite project was approved, it would affect
the planting of onions and garlic which might have to discontinue.
The CMU representative, Assoc. Prof Dr. Thanan
Anumanrachathon, received the petition and said, “CMU is willing to do
research, as it is an accepted and trustworthy academy institute. We will
research and be unbiased, as per our obligation to protect the environment
and lives of residents. The president has consulted with several researchers
to process the research correctly, and we have paid much attention to this
“It’s not important if the project will be approved, but we would
like to know the project’s impact toward the environment and local lives.
We request every sector concerned to cooperate, as it could lead to a
serious situation,” he added.
Chiang Mai deputy mayor arranging water distribution for Songkran
But no alcohol permitted near the moats
Chiang Mai municipality held a conference to advise on
the preparations for “Pawenee Pee Mai Muang Chiang Mai” (Northern Chiang
Mai New Year), which will take place on April 1 - 16.
Pornchai Jitnawasatian, deputy mayor of Chiang Mai, was
the chairman of the conference.
should not be an issue at this year’s Songkran festivities.
“This year, Chiang Mai municipality is very much
prepared for the Northern New Year. We can assure people about security, and
we have decorated the canal with Lanna flags and art, to welcome Phra Puttha
Sihing which will be paraded around the city. We also have purified the
canal by changing its water and adding EM. People can use the canal water
for splashing with the confidence that it is clean water,” Pornchai said.
He added, “We have provided officers to prevent and
control unexpected situations as well. This year, Chiang Mai municipality
will not permit loudspeakers, or the sales of alcohol and glass bottles in
the area nearby the canal.”
This year, the municipality is going to emphasize ancient
tradition and culture. The highlight will be the parade of Phra Puttha
Sihing on April 13. The parade floats will be beautifully decorated, to
encourage the good image of Buddhism and the faith of Buddhists. People can
pour water on Buddha images in 50 temples on that day.
Chiang Mai municipality is allowing the private sector to
hold the ancient tradition and culture beauty contest entitled “Mae Ying
Kee Rode Theep Gang Jong” (Ladies riding bicycles while holding
umbrellas). The parade of the beautiful bicyclettes will start at 7 a.m.
from Tourism Authority of Thailand office to Thapae Gate. There will also be
a Miss Songkran contest on April 14-15 at Thapae Gate from 6 p.m. to
midnight, together with other activities that do not involve loudspeakers or
The Public Water Works office is also going to set up water providing
machines on several points in the municipal area to serve people as every
previous year. When they have perfected turning the water into wine, the
Chiangmai Mail will be the first to let you know.
This year’s official Songkran activities
April 9-15 at Lok Moree
-109 monks perform Buddhist ceremony
-demonstration of local craftsmen
-construction of small sand castles
-ancient flag competition
-Hmong hill tribe musical instruments performance
-local drum playing competition
-local dance competition
-local kids’ dance performance
April 12 at the courtyard
in front of the Three King’s Monument
10.09 - ceremony of worship for the Three Kings
April 13 at Thapae Gate
-presenting breakfast to monks
-Thai Lanna of the past parade, with ladies holding
-religious possessions competition
-opening ceremony of Northern New Year
-invite Phra Putta Sihing out of the temple to pour
water around Chiang Mai City
April 14 at the Tourism
Authority of Thailand office 13.00-14.00
- parade of sand and wood to temples on Thapae Rd.
April 15 at Ratchadamneun
Rd. to Chiang Mai governor’s residence
-a parade of people going to pour water on the governor’s hands
April 12-15 at Jet Lin
-construction of small sand castles
-pouring water on monks’ hands
-northern blessing competition
-demonstration of supplies for pouring water
-pouring water on adults’ hands
April 12-15 at Chiang Mai
Buddhist Place 13.00-24.00
-pouring water on Phra Siri Mongkalajarn monk and
-small sand castles competition
-Larb (mince meat) competition
-kids’ local costumes competition
April 11 and 15 at Phra
Singh Temple 09.00-24.00
-presenting breakfast to monks
-Lanna culture performances
-northern artists performances
-Buy Sri competition
PTT encourages use
of gasohol to save currency reserves
Claims using gasohol could save about 7 billion Thai baht
Thailand is wasting money importing fuel oil, according
to local fuel distributors, PTT Public group.
Chaiwat Churit, deputy chairman of the board of the PTT,
said that the increasing prices of crude oil on the world markets has
resulted in Thailand having to pay too much for imported fuel oil, and PTT
encourages Thais to use gasohol instead of gasoline.
Thailand needs to find reserve energy to save several
hundreds of millions baht in foreign currency, and gasohol would be 1.50
baht cheaper than gasoline per liter. Gasohol is a fuel made of 90 percent
of 91 octane fuel and 10 percent ethyl alcohol, which, it is claimed,
produces clean and efficient energy as good as 95 octane fuel.
“In Bangkok PTT has set up 300 gasohol stations, and is
going to add 100 more throughout Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai, Lampang
and Phitsanulok,” he said.
Chiang Mai-Bangkok trains fully booked for Songkran
Subin Niboon-atthapon, head of Chiang Mai Train Station
revealed, “Tickets from Chiang Mai to Bangkok during Songkran festival on
April 15-18 have been fully reserved except for standing tickets in third
class, and tickets from Bangkok to Chiang Mai during April 8-13 are also
fully booked. However, they plan to add two more trains from Bangkok to
Chiang Mai and from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, train numbers 963 and 964.
The train on April 12 will leave from Bangkok at 5.45
p.m. and arrives in Chiang Mai at 7.05 a.m. on April 13, and the train on
April 16 will leave Chiang Mai at 6.30 p.m., arriving in Bangkok 7.05 a.m.
on the next day. Sleepers are 1,200 baht per bed and seats are 800 baht
including two meals. However, train tickets from Chiang Mai to Bangkok from
now till April 14 are still available.
Mae Ping River dredging leads to many river encroachment prosecutions
Dredging the Ping River is set to tackle about 30 km in
Chiang Mai and about 10.5 km in Lamphun district. The examination of the river
banks has resulted in almost 100 charges of river encroachment, but so far only
two have been filed. The rest are in the process.
and buildings along the riverside.
The governor revealed a plan to beautify the riverside
environment when dredging is complete and residents along the river are
requested to upgrade their houses to impress tourists.
The benefit of dredging the Ping River is the prevention of floods and
drought. Normally, water in the Ping River near Nawarat Bridge overflows, but
dredging prevented this during the last flood and supplied sufficient water for
consumption instead. A deeper river will also support riverine tourism.
of Asia selects new Thai chief
PM Thaksin continues with his moderate southern approach
The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) was held in Chiang
Mai from March 31 to April 6, entitled “Building Communities of Peace for
All.” Asian church leaders shared ideas on how to solve problems of
violence and to achieve world peace.
Thaksin Shinawatra poses with the Asian Christian leaders.
On April 4, PM Thaksin Shinawatra joined the conference
at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel, Chiang Mai to address the church leaders.
“The central theme of your conference focuses on a vitally important
principle for all religions. It is also a major issue presently facing
peoples and governments of the world. We all love peace, but sometimes peace
can be so elusive. It often seems to run away from us, until we have to give
chase with every effort we have. Indeed, the past decade has witnessed
growing violence and acts of terrorism in virtually every region. Our own
Asian continent has also not been spared from their fatal effects,” he
said. “At present, much of the world’s attention focuses on
anti-terrorist activities and how best to counter the threat of terrorism.
However, we may well have neglected the crucial question of how we can
eliminate terrorism and radicalism at their source. This may perhaps be done
through a process of understanding, empathizing, and reaching out. By
‘understanding’, I mean that we must try to comprehend the root cause of
radicalism and deal effectively with any inherent sense of injustice”, the
PM said, referring to his new attitude towards the southern Thailand
During the conference, Prawate Khid-arn was elected head of the Asian
Christian body, the first Thai in this position. The head office of CCA is
to be moved from Hong Kong to Chiang Mai, making it more convenient to
cooperate between Thai Christians and international Christians. A site has
yet to be found.
Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) discusses ways to prevent drugs in Northern provinces
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) held a
seminar on system management to prevent drug dealing within eight Northern
provinces, at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel on March 23. Almost 300
Thongchai, deputy secretary general of ONCB
Pinyo Thongchai deputy secretary general of ONCB, said,
“A system management to prevent drug dealing depends on pursuing drug
issues and receiving information from residents. There are an estimated
10,000 drug dealers for whom there are arrest warrants out but they have
escaped from the country or hide in different provinces. Some narcotic laws
will be reformed to update suppression in many different cases and for
preventing escapes, as many drug dealers are covering their activities by
establishing a good public image, helping society or with charitable
activities. They are running legal businesses but dealing in drugs in the
He added that the government’s policy to suppress drugs
during the last two or three years had not only led to volumes of drugs
being found, but also to a number of deaths. Therefore, agents are
transferring drugs with small groups of people along the border of Burma and
Laos. The small groups never know the head drug dealer and cannot inform
police even if they are arrested provided they have avoided death in the
inevitable shootouts. As making arrests becomes more difficult, more police
need to consult each other to catch up with new methods of drug dealing.
Regrettably, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) has not
paid much attention to agricultural products from north to central Thailand
transferred in large refrigerated trucks parking at Pathumthani Thai market.
However, ONCB has been concerned about this issue and is going to take
Reducing the road toll at Songkran
The usual call, but no really workable solutions
As the number of fatalities from traffic accidents in
Chiang Mai during the Songkran festival every year is related to drunk
driving, several sectors in Chiang Mai are cooperating to prevent accidents
and targeting a maximum of 22 deaths.
The Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Chiang
Mai has established accident prevention and solving centers in every
district and sub district. Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 has also set up
84 checkpoints and is adding another 156 points. They have been set up from
Denchai district, Phrae to Maeprik district, Lampang, to facilitate traffic
and to check blood alcohol levels.
Chiang Mai land transport office has also established a
24-hour passenger protection center at Arcade Terminal Bus Station by
checking the blood alcohol level of drivers before they leave the station.
Chiang Mai municipality plans to rescue people from drowning in canals and
the Ping River by providing a special rescue teams in six stations. Chiang
Mai Public Health has emergency doctors ready to aid tourists and is setting
up a tourist service center in every district to reduce the death rate. The
emphasis is on safety of drivers and facilitating people during the Songkran
Pilot project for Brain Based Learning in Chiang Mai
PM says it’s good for his hometown
PM Thaksin Shinawatra gave a speech on April 4 at the
Central Duangtawan Hotel Chiang Mai, concerning Brain Based Learning (BBL)
or brain learning management process for children under 19 years of age. The
National Institute for Brain-Based Learning has selected Chiang Mai province
to run a pilot project of BBL, and to be a model for the brain learning
process in the new world, according to the Thai government policy.
Thaksin Shinawatra giving a speech in relation to Brain Based Learning
The government considers this an important project, as
children are the future of the country. The first step is the development of
100,000 children from infants to 19 years old during the years 2005-2006,
funded with 340 million baht, and in cooperation with the National Institute
for Brain-Based Learning, local offices and NGO volunteers in different
PM Thaksin Shinawatra said, “Thailand has not paid
sufficient attention to children’s free time, so we have to invent and
develop knowledge institutes. Brain Based Learning is a new project for
Thailand. Between 1980-1990, special research was undertaken all around the
world, and it was learned that the human brain would normally be completely
developed after reaching the age of twenty; however, a small number of cells
continue to develop thereafter.
Chiang Mai students in the project
“Cells in human brains never stop developing, but they
will atrophy if not used. The brain is like a CPU of a computer, it can work
efficiently with good software and several CPUs work better than only one.
Several CPUs could compare with several human brains, and it will be
beneficial if they work together systemically. Chiang Mai has been selected
to be the pilot for the project because it is my home town, and I would like
to see this brain development in Chiang Mai children.”
The National Institute for Brain Based Learning (NBL) is a special
organization working under the Office of Knowledge Management and
Development, established on June 18, 2004, to study knowledge of human
brains by using various technologies to foster the study process of
Chiang Mai Night Safari to open during Songkran festival
Double pricing is official
Plodprasop Surasawadee, chairman of the committee for
planning the Night Safari checked the readiness of the Night Safari on March
19. Col. Boonrit Lert-wattana-ruangchai, commander of Thai Army Engineers
Department, revealed that the basic structure of Night Safari was almost 98
percent completed. The safari routes were almost ready, including Lanna
style buildings, decorated with elephant figures, and there was just some
decorative work left. Cages were also almost completed, and the jaguar trail
was expected to be operational when the park opens.
Surasawadee, Night Safari Chiang Mai planning and processing committee
Plodprasop Surasawadee said, “The Night Safari is
surely ready for visitors on April 13; however, some parts remain
uncompleted and therefore will be closed, but we will invite the PM to see
for himself. The construction will be finished, but electrical systems and
the overall atmosphere is probably only 50 percent. The jaguar trail is the
first part ready to be visited and there will also be other animals around
that area such as kangaroos, jackals and water animals. The first opening is
also for testing the management within the Night Safari.”
However, Plodprasop admitted that processing animal
imports from Australia was delayed, but local animals were ready. The
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment had assigned Zoo Thailand
Organization to take care of this issue but it was transferred to be under
the management of Night Safari office on March 15. The Night Safari
reassured that 60 percent of imported animals would be arriving soon, except
koalas which would arrive within the next three months. All parts of the
safari would be 100 percent ready and open on January 1, 2006.
“The benefit of this project is not from selling tickets but from
increasing tourists visiting and spending more time in Chiang Mai. The
safari confirms it will sell tickets at 200 baht for Thais and 400 baht for
foreigners,” said Plodprasop. Presumably foreigners will be seeing twice
as much as the locals for twice the local fee.
12,000 policemen to get wet during the Songkran festival
There will be many tourists visiting the Northern
provinces during Songkran, which is why the bureau chief has provided
12,000 policemen to serve and assure people and to prevent accidents.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya,
commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 revealed that he had
assigned police officers in the eight Northern provinces to find methods of
reducing and preventing accidents during Songkran festival, targeting a
decline in traffic accidents by 30 percent. The appalling statistics are
5,000 accidents in the eight Northern provinces in 2004 that led to 64
He has asked the police to be strict with drunks,
motorcycle riders without helmets and unlicensed drivers and those not
using safety belts. There will also be 156 checkpoints established along
the main and minor roads to prevent accidents and drug transfers. He warns
people who like to carry guns and high pressure water guns they can be
Police collide with Hmong drug dealers
Nopniwat Krailerg and
The Pha Muang Task Force, cooperating with the narcotic
suppression division of the Police Provincial Bureau Region 5, rendezvoused
with drug dealers at Mae Khong River side at Baan Hua Kwan, Tambon Baan Saew
in Chiang Saen district, Chiang Rai. The officers found 208,000 Ya Ba pills
after pretending to buy the drugs for 500,000 baht. Two drug dealers were
arrested, identified as Pan Muaseng, 69, and Wichai Muaseng, 20, both
Laotians living in Baan Don, Ton Peung City, in Laos PDR, but two others
were lost in the Khong River, making for a different, but welcome
conclusion, however, they had been shot before falling overboard.
Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya checks an AK- 47 assault rifle at the
The police modus operandi was the usual scenario of
having been informed by spies, acting as drug dealers, about an ongoing drug
transfer from Laos to Thailand, Maj. Gen. Pairat Thongjaktu, commissioner of
Pha Muang Task Force, assigned marine officers along Mae Khong River in
Chiang Rai to cooperate with police to suppress this gang.
found from the Laotian drug traffickers, 208,000 ya ba pills and an AK-47
After a long vigil, a long tail boat with three men and an old woman on
board chugged in from Baan Doi Thad, Laos PDR to Baan Hua Kwan, Thailand.
The sting officers had set an ambush and suddenly appeared to arrest the
culprits when, inevitably, shots were fired. Later it was learned that two
Laotians had been shot dead, and the mother and son were arrested. 208,000
Ya Ba pills, an AK-47 assault weapon with 24 bullets and a shotgun were
Police return stolen Buddha image to Jetiyanusorn Temple
On March 31 several heavyweight police officers returned
a Buddha image to Phra Kroo Suthep Kantigo, the head of Tambon Sanpuleuy
monks in Doi Saket, Chiang Mai. The antique bronze Subduing Mara image, 5
inches on the base and 6.5 inches high, was retrieved on March 30 after it,
together with two other Buddha images, was stolen from Jetiyanusorn Temple
on November 6, by Phra Charawut Thammawaroe, 32, the then acting abbot of
dance for joy and to say thanks in front of Provincial Police Bureau Region
5 after receiving the Buddha image.
On March 19, the police arrested Phra Charawut
Thammawaroe and found only one Buddha image, dubbed Phra Fonesaenha, which
was sold in a Bangkok market at 120,000 baht. Later, the police searched for
the rest of the images, cooperating with investigation police from Doi Saket
Police Station, and returned one bronze Subduing Mara image to the temple
and local residents.
Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Police Provincial
Bureau Region 5 returned the Buddha image to Phra Kroo Suthep Kantigo, the
head of Tambon Sanpuleuy monks area 2 at Tambon Sanpuleuy in Doi Saket,
Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong said, “Thanks to all police of Police Provincial
Bureau Region 5 and police of Doi Saket Police Station for having pursued
these Buddha images till they were returned to Buddhists who respect them.
As for the remaining image, we are searching for it and I believe that we
will find it soon.”
Police suppress influential gangs and threaten police accomplices
Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya chaired of a
conference about controlling temptation and pirated products. The
commissioner assigned officers to suppress influential gangsters in several
provinces. He also reported that the 30 member strong-arm gang extorting
parking fees around Chiang Mai city canal and the gang at the Night Bazaar
had been captured. “Police in cahoots with the gangs, or failing to
suppress them, will be punished,” he declared.
The commissioner said that many entertainment places
originally applied to open as restaurants but soon changed to entertainment
venues and, especially during school vacations, many underage teenagers can
be found visiting such places. Police would raid these dens of underage
iniquity, looking for drugs and violations of the closing hours.