HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Alai Krathong, Thai-Brunei cultural music exchange performance

Police Officers learn English from Sanikarn Supinitch

A Northern treasure: Kamthieng House at Siam Society in Bangkok

Southern Breeze from the North - to support the South

Alai Krathong, Thai-Brunei cultural music exchange performance

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Radio Thailand and Radio Television Brunei organized a cultural music exchange performance “Alai Krathong” at Kad Theater, Chiang Mai, to promote the cooperation in radio broadcasting between Thailand and Brunei Darussalam. This activity was one of the ASEAN projects to encourage bilateral relationships.

The first performance started with “Kongla Sanan Nanthaperi” a song composed by the Thai king “Duangjai Kab Kwam Rak” and a song by His Royal Highness Prince Sufri Bolkiah, the younger brother of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

It was attended by the director general of the Public Relation Department, Permanent Secretary of Brunei and Thai Prime Minister’s Offices and secretary of Brunei’s ambassador in Thailand.

Well known Brunei vocal performances.

Thai cultural performances, Bai Sri Soo Kwan and Thai four regions dramatic art.

Police Officers learn English from Sanikarn Supinitch

Alastair Connon, National Police Monitor

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat’s English Language project completed the first of two courses last week. The course is tailored towards travel and tourism, and the first session was judged a success for the 19 police officers from departments around the region, including Immigration, Tourist Police, Provincial Police from Sanpatong, Mae Rim, and Chiang Dow.

The participating students after completion of the first course.

Each of the 60 hour courses in Basic Communicative English is taught by Ajarn Sanikarn Supinitch, of Little Chiang Mai Co, based at Mae Rim, teaching the “students” how to ask questions, telephone skills, dealing with enquiries and giving advice.

The next course is for those in the tourist industry including Tuk Tuk drivers.

A Northern treasure: Kamthieng House at Siam Society in Bangkok

Reinhard Hohler

The Kamthieng historic house was built in 1844 on the banks of the Ping River in Chiang Mai. Its founder was called Mae (“Mother”) Saed and was the great granddaughter of the Prince of Chae. The traditional house brings together many elements of lifestyle and typical culture of that period. Constructed and passed on through the women of a northern matrilineal clan, the house is one of the oldest surviving examples of traditional northern Thai architecture.

An old photograph of the Kamthieng House, courtesy of the Siam Society.

Nowadays, the new Kamthieng House on the grounds of the prestigious Siam Society in Bangkok is a museum. It highlights the traditional spirit and belief systems of the Lan Na people, within the context of a 19th century northern Thai house.

The aim of the exhibits showcases an exposition of the motivating ideologies of the Lan Na people, especially in terms of its relationship with nature and the environment. Elements of lifestyle, ritual, art and architecture are presented within the Lan Na world-view, through objects, graphic illustrations, photographs, video and sound.

Ritual practice, as it permeated the daily life and imagination of the Lan Na household, drew together Lan Na culture’s intimate relationships with nature, family legacy and crafts. Natural forces, seen and unseen, were respected, both as a way of honoring ancestral spirits and of mediating with the spirit world. Rituals invoked both the primal energy of the environment and personifications of the agrarian lifecycle.

At heart was a profound understanding of living in harmony with nature, an ethos of sustainable inter-dependence of individual, community and environment. According to oral traditions, the Lan Na world-view expressed itself through well-defined beliefs and practices, most notably in a detailed personal code of conduct - a meticulous etiquette of interaction between people and spirits.

Exhibits of primary crafts provide a glimpse of the taste and style of the merchant elite of the late Lan Na period, between the lifetimes of Mae Saed and her granddaughter Mae Kamthieng - namesake of the house.

Through its first hundred years, the house was pitched at a turning point in Lan Na culture, with traditional lifestyle slowly giving way to the prestige of Western taste. But the Kamthieng House was to remain a repository of the Lan Na spirit, even as the late Kraisri Nimmanahaeminda moved it to the Siam Society in 1962/63 - to become a real northern Thai ethnological museum in Bangkok.

The Siam Society was founded in 1904 during the reign of King Chulalongkorn with the objective of researching and gathering information on the arts and sciences of Thailand and neighboring countries. At present, there are close to 1,800 members, many of them life members, including both Thai and foreigners. Members and visitors can enjoy a comprehensive and unique library and a beautiful garden oasis at 131 Asoke Road, Sukhumvit 21, right in the heart of Bangkok.

For further information, please consult the respective web-site: www.siam-society.org.

Southern Breeze from the North - to support the South

Southern Breeze is a group of Thai volunteer cultural artistes working for charity to promote Thai culture and tourism. In particular they are dedicated to helping tourism in Southern Thailand recover from the tsunami crisis, combating sex tourism and presenting a positive image of Thai womanhood.

Southern Breeze - Thai volunteer cultural artistes working to promote Thai culture and tourism.

The artistes call themselves Southern Breeze, as always when the situation in Southern Thailand seems to get a little too hot, then suddenly the Southern Breeze comes from nowhere to bring comfort and refreshment to all.

Nalinta “Pui” Kittiwan, responsible designer for Southern Breeze performances says, “I have worked as a culture actress for 9 years, and I have traveled to various countries to promote Thailand’s tourism destinations. I therefore think that I will be able to apply my experience and knowledge to help the situation in the South, by setting up this project. I’m now in the process of persuading other cultural actors and actresses who are interested in this project, without charging any fee. Ben Svasti, who supports this project, has made arrangements in London to facilitate our performances there to promote Thailand and the southern region.”

The problem is not the lack of cash donations, as Thai and international donors have been most generous. What is really hurting them most now is the lack of tourists and other visitors who used to be the mainstay of their day to day livelihoods. Southern Breeze realized that no recovery from the tsunami was possible unless they could help to restore the faith and confidence of tourists and the international community and convince them to visit Thailand again.

Secondly, and despite the fact that tourism has undoubtedly brought benefits to the overall economy, there is one area where tourism has brought a negative image to Thailand, and that is the sex trafficking of women and children. The artistes want to combat sex tourism and promote a positive image of Thai women such as emphasizing the role of modern Thai women as leaders, social advocates and artists. They will also contribute any profits from their performances to charities such as the Mudita Trust, striving to prevent child prostitution by providing educational assistance to underprivileged, vulnerable children, and TRAFCORD who rescue women and children from sex slavery.

The dances they perform are Contemporary Thai Folk dance in style although they also perform dances from all regions of Thailand as well as from neighboring countries. They have created new dances for Southern Breeze which combine the grace and beauty of traditional Thai dance with a modern and exciting flavor. Models in the group will be arranging fashion shows to highlight Thailand’s exciting fashion scene. Through the grace of Thai dance, the beauty of Thai costume and their professional presentations on tourism subjects, they are confident they will project a new image of Thai women.

They decided to organize a Thai Tourism Road Show to travel to countries, such as the UK, Scotland, Germany and Holland (so far), all major source countries for tourism to Thailand, in order to convince and charm them that it was safe to visit Thailand and enjoy the many natural cultural attractions it had to offer.