HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

World War II Museum in Khun Yuam district, Mae Hong Son

Porter on the Ping - Let’s do it!

Rotary Club of Queenstown (Singapore) visits Sister Club of Chiang Mai South

World War II Museum in Khun Yuam district, Mae Hong Son

Saksit Meesubkwang

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.

The 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.

Leather horse saddles.

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.

Rusty 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.

Bayonets 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 museum.

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.

Records 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 Chaem.

Remains of soldier’s vehicles can still be seen.

Large rifles, no longer functioning.

These boxes used to contain the Japanese soldiers’ belongings.

Japanese soldier’s uniforms still in good condition.

Porter on the Ping - Let’s do it!

Norm Robinson

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.

Mimi Suknapasawat, vocalist

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 Things.

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.

Becky Lomax, narrator; John Cooley, program co-coordinator, Nakornping Community Productions and Esther Ting, owner of River Ping Palace.

Antoine Garth was simultaneously hilarious and perfect in his interpretations.

John Smith, a jazz guitarist who regularly visits Chiang Mai.

Everybody enjoyed the romantic setting at the Ping River.

Rotary Club of Queenstown (Singapore) visits Sister Club of Chiang Mai South

Wolfdietrich Goettel

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.

Hospitality 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.

Having real fun!

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.

Getting ready to take off to visit archaeological sights.