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Buddhists make the long climb to Doi Suthep

Y’s Men International SE Asia Regional Conference in Chiang Mai

Symbols of Love

Buddhists make the long climb to Doi Suthep

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

Phra Thad Doi Suthep is an important Buddhist temple and on the eve of Visakha Bucha, there is a well-enshrined ceremony incorporating Buddhist beliefs and making merit that has become an important event in the local Buddhist calendar.

Beautifully decorated traditional carts transported the holy waters.

Each year, this event begins at the Kru Ba Sri Wichai monument where worshippers gather the night before the day of Visakha Bucha. After ceremonies at the monument, Chiang Mai residents in every district organize parades to climb the 11 km up to Doi Suthep.

This year, local MP Yaowapa Wongsawat, together with Somchai Wongsawat, permanent under-secretary of the minister of justice, presided over the opening ceremony, lighting joss sticks and candles to honour the Triple Gems and the Kru Ba Sri Wichai monument.

On the evening of May 21 at Kru Ba Sri Wichai monument, there were almost a thousand monks and both foreigners and Thais from Chiang Mai and different provinces attending the ceremony. They were joined by Udornpan Chantarawirot, head organizer of this activity; Somchai Wongsawat, permanent under-secretary of minister of justice; MP Boonsong Teriyaphirom, Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat and Chumporn Sangmanee, Muang Chiang Mai district chief officer.

Residents worship and pray in front of Kru Ba Sri Wichai monument on the occasion of Visakha Bucha Day.

Udornpan Chantarawirot addressed the crowd, saying, “I have been allowed by the abbot of Phra Thad Doi Suthep Temple to be the head organizer of this activity on the occasion of Visakha Bucha Day, and as we know, there is an important ceremony bringing water granted by the royal family to Phra Thad Doi Suthep Temple, and it has become a ceremonial tradition to climb up to Doi Suthep.”

Many people made the steep climb, and at the temple destination, nine people were invited to pour the water, including the Chiang Mai governor; Chao Wong Sak na Chiang Mai, president of Chiang Mai University; the director general of Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Court, the director general of district attorney, the Wing 41 commander, the commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, the judicial director general Region 5 and commander-in-chief region 3.

Elephants flanked the route to Doi Suthep.

The Royally granted water was added to water from Doi Inthanon, Doi Luang Chiang Dao and Doi Suthep that had been blessed for the Buddhist ceremony.

In her address, MP Yaowapa Wongsawat said, “In the past, it was hard to climb up to Doi Suthep due to the rough and narrow road, and one had to travel by foot, spending a long time to get to the temple. In 1934, however, Kru Ba Sri Wichai, the Lanna monk, started to construct a road to Phra Thad Doi Suthep, a project supported by King Kaew Nawarat. It was amazing that this route was built by using only hand labour with spades or hoes in cooperation with several thousands residents, and it took only five months to finish the route. All of us should pay much attention to this road that leads us to the temple in which we worship, and this activity shows the unity of Thai citizens especially Chiang Mai residents,” she added.

So many people made the climb that the police had to stop vehicular traffic for several hours.

The next morning, Visakha Bucha Day, breakfast was prepared for 500 monks.

MP Yaowapa Wongsawat, Somchai Wongsawat, permanent under-secretary of minister of justice; MP Boonsong Teriyaphirom, Chiang Mai governor Suwat Tantipat and Chiang Mai University president join the Buddhist ceremony the night before Visakha Bucha Day.

Y’s Men International SE Asia Regional Conference in Chiang Mai

Actions speaks louder than words

Sandy Clark
Photos: Anchana Kosawanttana

Chiang Mai hosted the Regional Convention of Y’s Men International to discuss the service which is given to the YMCA and community through programs and projects implemented by the local clubs of SE Asia.

The mood at the SE Asia Regional Conference at the Empress Hotel was all about getting to meet people with similar motivations while enjoying the Lanna hospitality.

The first Y’s Men’s Club outside North America was formed in Shanghai in 1924 and from there the expansion continued around the globe. The SE Asia Region includes two districts: Hong Kong (11 Y’s Men’s Clubs) and the ‘SMIT’ – consisting of Singapore (2 clubs), Malaysia (4), Indonesia, Thailand (2, Bangkok and Chiang Mai), Bangladesh (1) and Myanmar (1). There are 27,300 members in 1,530 clubs in 72 countries around the world.

Receiving a token of appreciation was Dr. Anusorn Kunanusorn (middle). Also shown, from left, all from the regional working committee: Orapin Lerttumnongtum, chairman of the organizing committee, Supaluck Promkuntha, and on the right Rachan Maneekarn and Anchana Kosawanttana, responsible for publicity for the local club.

Orapin Lerttumnongtum, chairman of the organizing committee and representative of the Chiang Mai Y’s Men, followed by welcoming words from Chiang Mai YMCA president Somboon Panyaprouks opened the conference.

Y’s Men Club Chiang Mai getting together with representatives from YMCA Chiang Mai and volunteers from abroad.

Saturday was an all day conference day with reports and discussions led by David Wong, regional director 2004-2005. During the conference, district governor (Hong Kong) Jackson Leung pointed out there has been an increase in memberships and he said that membership extensions are now focused on forming new clubs, e.g. the HK district is sponsoring a new Y’s Men Club in Macau with the support from the Macau YMCA and the HK YMCA while the SMIT district is working on the chartering of a new club in Kuching.

Symbols of Love

Sandy Clark

May has long been a traditional month for weddings. But being able to find your soul mate and having the chance to celebrate the most important day of your life on a date which reads 20-05-2005 is a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance. This chance happened at the wedding of Amari Rincome General Manager Wim Fagel and his bride, the former Pinkaew Chuaboonmee.

What God has brought together, let no man put asunder! Rev. Pakdee Wattanachantaragul explaining the vows.

At least 150 guests of different nationalities and faiths settled down on the church pews waiting for Pinkaew and Wim Fagel. When they arrived, the bridal party was escorted down the aisle by small bridesmaids and page-boys who lit the candles on the altar.

The always smiling bride looked stunning in her long white wedding dress, complete with gloves, and the groom in his tuxedo was obviously captivated.

Rev. Pakdee Wattanachantaragul led the bilingual marriage service that included the symbols of love. Exchange of rings, a prayer of dedication, the romantic lighting of the Unity candle, the Thai way of paying respect to the parents, it represented the best of both cultures, and for family and friends who had traveled from abroad to witness the wedding, it was like a ‘guide’ to Thai and foreign cultures.

Junnapong Saranak (left), TAT director in Chiang Mai and his wife (right) were amongst the well-wishers.

After the service, the staff of the Amari Rincome had prepared a ‘big’ surprise for the couple in the strikingly decorated Payom room where a huge wedding cake awaited.

The evening reception was held at the Four Seasons Resort in Mae Rim, and the happy couple, surrounded by family, friends and well-wishers, really tried to spend some time with each guest.

It was raining blossoms when the couple walked through the aisle of the church.

Daeng Fantastic and friends played evergreens to entertain, the food at the Four Seasons was outstanding as always, and MC of the evening, Michael Vogt, called on the speakers and kept the party atmosphere flowing.

M. L. Surawut Thongtham, representing the Amari head office, delivered greetings from everybody and wished the newlyweds a lifetime of love and happiness. Wim Fagels’ sister Marian spoke on behalf of the entire Fagel family - parents, friends and nephews from the Netherlands, to welcome the new ‘daughter’, ‘sister’ and ‘friend’ in their midst. Finally she asked the guests to join her in a traditional Dutch song which prompted more singing and dancing until very late.

The happy couple left on their honeymoon to Katmandu the next morning and everyone wishes them a happy return and may all their married time be as alive, as exciting and as much fun as their wedding day.

Marian Fagel, the groom’s older sister, welcomed Pinkaew into the Fagel family, very relieved that her ‘little brother’ found a wife. (From left) MC Michael Vogt, Chiangmai Mail; Marian Fagel, Wim and Pinkaew Fagel.

Worakorn Wongwitayakarn (Fai Ngam) from Soi Nimmanhaeminda and friends at the reception at the Four Seasons Resort. Rudy van den Berg, MD Horeca, sitting on the right.

A symbol of love and a beautiful custom is lighting the Unity candle together.

A huge surprise awaited GM Wim Fagel and his new wife back at the Amari, where his staff had prepared a huge wedding cake which was cut in front of the witnesses.

The official photos began outside the First Church of Chiang Mai, with the bride’s and the groom’s parents.

(From left) Manuel Reymondin, EAM Sheraton Chiang Mai; Major Roy Hudson and Eleanor Hardy, GM of ‘The Chedi’ Chiang Mai.

(From left) Andrew Harrison, GM Fours Seasons Resort; M. L. Suravut Thongtham, VP Sales Amari Resorts; Basil McCall, Eleanor Hardy and David Thomas from Wanna Tours.

(Left) As every good party ends in the kitchen, everybody joined the ‘Dang Fantastic and Friends’ band and danced at the Four Seasons Cooking School.

Wedding guests (from left) Daisy and Michael Vogt,
Patrick Roberts,
Dot Delaney and Vaipanya Kongkwanyuen
from the Four
Seasons Resort.