American Frank Weicks installed as new president
Photos by Michael Vogt
This year, the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai West began its
30th year of service to
humanity. After a preliminary meeting in 1974, it began life in 1975. It was
the second Rotary club in the city, and a direct offshoot of the city’s
The Rotary Club of Chiang Mai (the city’s first club)
was founded in 1959, was already active. However, its founders – notably
Hans Penth and Preecha Watchapawootikhun – decided upon a new and unusual
undertaking. They wanted to create a club whose primary language of
communication was not Thai, but English.
the old and to the new president of Chiang Mai West. One was the president
of the centennial, and the new one will be the thirtieth. For both a very
good reason to be proud, as Tawee Tapingkae, District Governor 3360 said.
So Rotary Club of Chiang Mai West’s collective life
began during a period of deep worry and great hope. America and allies were
still embroiled in the Indo-Chinese War. Outside the war zone, Thailand was
the United States’ primary Southeast Asian partner, and there were many US
military bases in the country – two in the Chiang Mai area. The Thai
government was deeply concerned about communist insurgency within the
country – especially after the governments of neighboring Laos, Cambodia
and South Vietnam fell in 1975.
birthdays were celebrated during the month of June, and the room joined in
‘Happy Birthday’ singing while the eight ‘birthday kids’ showed
their appreciation with a donation towards the club. Fourth from left is one
of the longest serving members of the club, P.P. (1980-1981) Dr. Amnuay
Such a new clubt was feasible for several reasons. Like
today, many foreigners working for Western educational, medical and other
non-government organizations were located in the city, and most spoke
English. Also, many Thais in the business, academic and professional
communities had received their education overseas at English-language
universities. The club thus had many potential international members.
In the early days about half the club’s presidents and
secretaries were foreign nationals; the first president, however, was
Jitsook Jongjit, a Thai.
the first time the scholarship fund of the Rotary Club Chiangmai West was
initiated, and until today every year underprivileged children receive funds
for another year of schooling, handed out by the district governor himself.
Seen here are the receiving children of this year together with President
Preecha Wongsakul (left) and Incoming President Frank Weicks (right) with
The club has always been concerned about Chiang Mai’s
needs, as our banners suggest. The one adopted in 1980 was based upon two
important local landmarks – Wat Doi Suthep and the Ping River. It was
later modified to reflect two key national institutions – Buddhism and the
in heart and mind. P.P. Surachai Sureephong (right) received a plaque of
appreciation for 17 years of 100% attendance from outgoing president
Preecha. Just imagine that; 17 years of 100% attendance means 884 Rotary
As the Indo-Chinese War ended, America began closing its
local military bases. The pool of local English-speaking people decreased
somewhat, and the club later underwent reorganization. Beginning in 1984,
for some years the club was strictly a Thai-language club. However, the
Rotary Club of Chiang Mai West had a strong tradition in the English
language, and gradually re-emerged as a club for both Thai and foreign
members. Eventually meetings began to be conducted in both Thai and English.
Speakers today can use either language, with a translator bridging the gap.
The club’s first meetings were held in the Rincome
Hotel, but moved to many other venues during the period 1980-1999. The first
gatherings took place over lunch, but changed to dinner meetings in 1980.
This provided time for an after-dinner speaker, and more time for club
business and fellowship. In 2000, the club moved back to the (renamed) Amari
Rincome Hotel, its original home.
Membership has varied over the years, but the club
usually has about 30 members – little different from the original 27
members of 1975. Most are Thai nationals; with perhaps ten expatriates on
the roster at any given time. As it was in the beginning, members still tend
to be business people, professionals and academics with what we in Thailand
call “jai dii” – a good heart.
The Rotary Club of Chiang Mai West meets Tuesday evenings (7 p.m.) at the
Amari Rincome hotel. Guests are welcome, and will meet our new president,
the president’s chain from outgoing president Preecha is American Frank
Weicks. His strong belief is that Rotarians can do a lot more to improve
equality of life in their home town and we know him as dedicated to service
and to promote the greater good within the community.
Consul General Bea Camp and her husband David Summers were guests of honor
to honor Frank Weicks when he took over the reigns of the club.
McKenzie-Brown was amongst the well wishers who came with a rose for
Incoming President Frank Weicks and his wife Becky.
an emotional ceremony the club also installed three new members. From left:
Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at Chiang Mai University, Prof. Virush
Patanaporn, 32 year old double master degree holder, Dr. Kobkij
Issarachevawat, and Peter Kouwenberg, formerly a development economist for
the United Nations.
have a toast on the coming year, so that we can provide this great community
with a better understanding of the problems which can be identified in the
many diverse cultures which make up Chiang Mai. These were the final words
of Incoming President Frank Weicks’ speech, and everybody stood up to join
Nopniwat Krailerg and
In the last issue we introduced the four corners of
Chiang Mai and will, this time, present the Chiang Mai city gates. There
were originally inner and outer gates to the city but the outer gates have
now disappeared. These were constructed during the reign of King Mengrai.
Chang Phuak Gate is located on the north on Chang Phuak
Road, and was originally called Hua Wiang Gate, but later changed to Chang
Phuak Gate because a Chang Phuak (albino elephant) monument was set up at
Chiang Mai Gate used to be called Tai Wiang Gate because
it is also located towards the north. Old residents believed that it held
the fame of city and no one was allowed to pass through this gate as it may
cause the person to become unlucky.
Suan Dok Gate is on the west side. It’s named Suan Dok
because it was a route to the flower garden (suan dok) owned by King Gue Na.
A temple was established in the garden (Suan Dok Temple) in 1371, to keep
the bones of a famous monk brought from Sukhothai. According to Suwan
Khamdang’s chronicles, Suan Dok was itself a city set up in a period when
the Lua tribe was prominent and was called Wiang Suan Dok. Wiang Suan Dok
has a square shape surrounded by walls as can be seen clearly from the air.
Thapae Gate located on the east side is the route to the
Mae Ping River where boats and rafts landed. It was been called Thapae
(thapae means raft port) Gate until today.
Suan Proong Gate is in the south-east next to Chiang Mai
Gate or Goo Huang Corner. It was the last gate established in 1402 during
the reign of King Phaya Sam Fang Gaen and was used for transferring corpses
to Hai Ya graveyard. This gate was called several names such as Suan Lae
Gate or Sang Boong Pang gate.
There are two more inner gates recorded in ancient
documents, but remains have not been found, such as Sriphum Gate, located at
the north next to Sriphum Corner believed to have been set up in by King
Phaya Tilokarat; and Chiang Yeun Gate.
The Yonok chronicle tells us that the gates were rebuilt several times,
one took place in the reign of King Phra Muang Kaew, the 13th king of the
Mengrai dynasty in 1495–1517, and another during the reign of King Kawila.
However, at present Thapae Gate is in the best shape because it has been
restored as a place to welcome Chiang Mai guests, but the other four gates
are degenerating because of subsidence. Participation by the government, the
Fine Arts Department and Chiang Mai residents is needed to conserve these
gates because they are valued by Chiang Mai’s citizens.
Gate is still in good shape.
Poong or Suan Proong Gate
Mai Gate is located behind a fresh market.
Gate is currently the best preserved gate.
of Chiang Mai’s gates in bricks.
Phuak Gate remains with the old wall.
Phuak Gate has a new fountain.
board written in Thai, English and ancient Lanna languages.