World War II Museum in Khun Yuam district, Mae Hong Son
Old men tell that, during World War II, Japanese soldiers
moved through the upper northern region, especially Chiang Mai and Mae Hong
Son. Japanese troops set up a road from Mae Malai, Chiang Mai, to reach Khun
Yuam district, Mae Hong Son, a road that earned the sad name of “Death
Road”, as many persons died during its construction.
facade of the World War II Museum in Khun Yuam.
The purpose of this road was to reach Burma and India,
and the soldiers also set up a nearby camp known as Khun Yuam. After the war
ended, and when the Japanese armies fled the country, disease and starvation
spread within this area, resulting in many deaths of both Thai citizens and
Japanese soldiers. It was also said that this disease affected anybody’s
health very quickly, with most affected dying within 10 days, and it was
therefore called the Japanese Disease. Even though the soldiers left many
possessions behind, residents were afraid and did not dare to take them.
The Japanese armies looted booty from Burma and India,
mostly diamonds, gold, precious stones and Buddha images. The Japanese
soldiers buried their treasure, personalized with a sign displaying their
respective family name, while other possessions were left in caves, and much
treasure was found after the war.
Japanese army spades.
In 1995, when Pol. Lt. Col. Chertchai Chomthawat was head
of Khun Yuam Police Station, he was interested in WWII history, and
collected information because there were only a few documents recording the
history. He consulted residents, district chief officers, Tambon chief
officers and village heads to establish the World War II Museum, which
subsequently became the first museum in Thailand recording Thailand in Word
War II in the Khun Yuam district, Mae Hong Son. It displays a number of
items from the Japanese armies, such as dishes, spoons, weapons, samurai
blades, and uniforms, altogether around 1,300 pieces, equivalent to the
number on display at the Chaleuy Suek Museum in Kanchanaburi.
used for close battle.
This museum has now been in existence for ten years, and
has become a favorite tourist attraction in Khun Yuam, surpassing even the
well-known Mexican Sunflower Mountain. It costs only ten baht to visit the
Winai Jinabuth, Khun Yuam mayor, said that the Antique
Protection Club was initially responsible for the museum, but as the Club
had too many duties of its own, degeneration of the building resulted, and
there were also insufficient funds to pay staff to take care of the
building. Later, a determined government official volunteer took it on
himself to look after it. Even though Khun Yuam municipality supported the
museum on some occasions, it would require a much more substantial budget to
improve the whole historical building. If any organization is interested to
support the museum, please call 0 5369 1019.
of Japanese soldiers who died in World War II combat.
It is regrettable that the young are seldom interested in historical
places such as the World War II Museum. Old artifacts in the museum are in
good shape and awaiting visitors, and interested people can visit by driving
along Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son Road number 108, leave the city down to Hot
and get to Mae Sariang district, Mae Hong Son. Then to Khun Yuam district,
300 km away on Mae Chaem Road, by driving up to Doi Inthanon National Park,
to arrive in Mae Chaem district. Khun Yuam is only 70 km away from Mae
of soldier’s vehicles can still be seen.
rifles, no longer functioning.
boxes used to contain the Japanese soldiers’ belongings.
soldier’s uniforms still in good condition.
Porter on the Ping - Let’s do it!
The timelessness of Cole Porter met Thai culture in a
brilliant evening of music, food and fellowship on Saturday evening at River
Ping Palace on the banks of the Ping River.
The brilliance of Cole Porter, one of the most prolific
and inventive American song-writers of the twentieth century, and the key
developments in his life - from his life-long devotion to his wife Linda and
the impact of the loss of his mobility after a tragic, near fatal,
horse-riding accident - were enthusiastically narrated by Becky Lomax.
The selection of material, covering the most creative
periods of Porter’s career, was lapped up by the hundred-plus appreciative
audience who crowded Esther Ting’s Ping River Palace Restaurant.
John Smith, a professional jazz musician who regularly
visits Chiang Mai, and Antoine Garth, the talented local tenor, thrilled the
audience with sultry, and frequently cheeky, versions of classics such as
Love for Sale, I Get A Kick Out of You, So In Love and Just One of Those
They were joined for one of Porter’s most loved and
romantic standards, True Love, by Chiang Mai chanteuse Mimi Suknapasawat,
who also performed solo renditions of You Do Something To Me and All Of You.
The inspiration for the evening began some months ago with John Smith
wanting to share his love of some of Cole Porter’s music. Together with
his friend and fellow Nakornping Condo resident, John Cooley, the concept
was developed and refined, and a group called the Nakornping Community
Production formed to promote events like these. The end result was the
polished production of “An Evening With Cole Porter: Let’s Do It!”
with professional sound equipment and mixing skills provided by the smiling
Mr. Pat from Patr Music in Loikroh Road.
Will this be the last Nakornping Community production? In the words of
Cole Porter, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” the two Johns say, we find a
musical reason for coming together again.
Lomax, narrator; John Cooley, program co-coordinator, Nakornping Community
Productions and Esther Ting, owner of River Ping Palace.
Garth was simultaneously hilarious and perfect in his interpretations.
Smith, a jazz guitarist who regularly visits Chiang Mai.
enjoyed the romantic setting at the Ping River.
Rotary Club of Queenstown (Singapore) visits Sister Club of Chiang Mai South
A group of five Rotarians from Rotary Club (RC) of
Queenstown, headed by President Jack Chuang visited their Sister Club, the
Rotary Club of Chiang Mai South from May 6-9.
and exchange of information in true Rotary spirit. (From left) Mavis Yong RC
Queenstown, Catherine Yeo RC Queenstown, Wolfdietrich Goettel RC Queenstown,
P.P. Smejai of RC Chiang Mai South, Araya Wiyo of RC CMS, David Tang PP of
RC Queenstown and P.P. Penpat Premchit of RC CMS.
The Singaporean Rotarians enjoyed the hospitality and
sights of Chiang Mai thanks to the kindness, generosity and enthusiasm of
their friends in their Sister Club. But being a Rotarian does, of course,
not only mean enjoying fellowship and a good time together, but also to
engage in some serious work to better the lives of others. In true Rotarian
spirit the RC of Queenstown has supported RC Chiang Mai South over the last
six years in their project for AIDS orphans, providing funds to ensure the
future of the orphans through education and vocational training. The AIDS
Orphan Project is managed by Penpat Premchit and supported by PE Siriat
Chareonwong and Araya Wiyo of Rotary Club Chiang Mai South.
Saturday, May 8 was spent in the company of the orphans.
Two minibuses took the children and Rotarians on an outing. The sightseeing
included archaeological spots, especially Wiang Kum Kam; museums, wats and
local temples, followed by lunch and a visit to playgrounds. Rotarians from
the Queenstown Club visit Chiang Mai and the Project at least once a year
and the children are always eagerly awaiting the visits. The children gave
proud accounts of their progress in school and to the great delight of the
Singapore visitors presented them with presents to remember their visit.
The occasional rain did not diminish the joy and the Singapore visitors,
used to hotter temperatures, could enjoy the cool, but also the flowers,
blossoms and fruit of the season. The Singapore group departed with the
intention to stay longer next time.
ready to take off to visit archaeological sights.