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Adventure and team building in the wilderness

Topsy-turvy gender-bender party at Hillside 4’s rooftop

Bye Bye Brook

Adventure and team building in the wilderness

Safe fun at Pang Soong Retreat

Nopniwat Krailerg

Team building is very much part of human resources development and there is nothing quite like a little adventure and excitement out in the wilderness for building up unity and bringing out leadership qualities.

At Pang Soong Retreat, in Mae On sub-district, Chiang Mai, you can combine excitement with relaxation, in the most beautiful surroundings.

To get there, start from Don Chan intersection and drive along the Chiang Mai-San Kamphaeng new route. Go through the entrance of San Kamphaeng hot spring and straight to Huay Kaew Tambon Administration Organization, and turn left. You will pass the entrance to Jae Son National Park. When you arrive at Pang Kae village, turn left and then continue straight on to Pang Soon Retreat. It is about 50 kilometers from Chiang Mai, or one hour traveling time.

On the day of our visit, the staff at Pang Soong Retreat had already prepared a full range of activities for some visiting Taiwanese, who were divided into five teams and equipped with safety equipment, including life jackets and helmets. Everyone was briefed on the safety regulations, and assured that what they were about to do was both safe and fun, and good exercise into the bargain.

The groups moved off and waded through part of the creek, with the stronger ones helping those who needed a helping hand. Then they arrived at a waterfall, where everyone had to climb a cliff about 8 meters in height, with a safety rope wound around their waist. It was easier than it at first looked, and everyone’s confidence received a great boost.

Next stage involved carrying a dummy, representing an injured person, that was laid on a stretcher and had to be transported along part of the creek without getting wet, and of course without being dropped. This taught the team members cooperation and coordination, and the dummy arrived safe and sound.

Team members wait for their leader.

The final stage had team members building a bamboo ladder from prepared materials and then placing it against the waterfall cliff, finally shinning up the ladder and standing on top in triumph.

Sriphan Beary (AKA Add) is owner and general manager of Track of the Tiger Co Ltd, which organizes the courses. Add said this is a new facility for adventure tourism and for team building activities. The company has operated in other areas for some years and has long experience of building this kind of activity, but Pang Soong Retreat has only recently opened.

A female participant climbs the ladder at the waterfall.

Although the team building aspect is of value in any context, this particular course is particularly useful in training leaders and teams of trekking expeditions, said Add, as it presents very practical scenarios and teaches participants how to overcome exactly the kind of obstacles they might encounter during a trek.

About to open is a study facility, with lodges and tents, allowing participants to spend time in nature and ecology studies. The first group to undertake this will arrive in December from Bangladesh. They will stay for four nights and spend their time both trekking and studying nature, plants, animals, and insects.

For more information contact Sriphan Beary at Track of the Tiger Co Ltd, tel 0 5330 8775 or visit website: www.track-of-the-tiger.com.

Warming up.

Wearing safety equipment.

Ready to go!

Walking in the jungle.

Cooperation while playing games.

Staff explain the safety rules for next stage, carrying a dummy on a bamboo litter through the creek.

Some careful cliff climbing.

The last stage has team members building a ladder for climbing the waterfall cliff.

Topsy-turvy gender-bender party at Hillside 4’s rooftop

Warm-up for the big bash in January

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Speculation, anticipation, preparation and a huge amount of guesswork and hush-hush was overheard days before the ‘Topsy-turvy’ night, being another fundraiser in the build-up for the upcoming Charity Rooftop Party on January 14.

Topsy-turvy nights are commonly known as a “girl asks guys” turnaround dance; however, this particular event was more a “girl became guy”, or, more importantly for some, “guy became girl” happening. Amazingly, even for the organizers, out of a total of 80 plus participants, well over 60 made an entrance dressed-up upside down, some of them totally unrecognizable, yet all of them fully equipped with accessories normally only found with the opposite gender, and all sorts of props from the drama department. It was truly like the recovery room in the gender reassignment hospital.

More like a belated Halloween appearance, yet not as scary.

Some enjoyed the bizarre scenario more than others, some appeared totally natural and at ease in the opposite genders’ clothes, while others had extreme difficulties coping especially with the high heels, and “My feet are killing me” was heard more than once as the evening progressed. The most creative appearance was awarded with a mini Oscar (batteries not included)!

For those who could not find a decent dress in their closets, or a decent closet in the dress shop, a “punishment fee” of 200 baht was collected, all going towards the main charity fund.

The surprise of the evening was one participant who voluntarily donated 50,000 baht instead of the requested 200 baht towards the charity. With this money and all the other funds collected previously and in upcoming events before the main event on January 14, the organizing committee hopes to exceed the amount of 640,000 baht which was collected during the same event in January 2005, in aid of the tsunami victims.

The bride on the right had seen better days, but reminded everyone that even Bette Davis had a lot of fun when she got older.

The next event aims to raise funds for five local Chiang Mai charities, whereby items and necessities (no cash) will be given to organizations such as F.E.R.C., Ban Kingkaew Orphanage, Vienping Orphanage, Downs Syndrome Center Chiang Mai, and the Suandok Hospital for the Disabled.

Mark January 14, 2006, in your calendars, as everybody is welcome (in normal clothes) and every baht will be needed. Chiangmai Mail will inform you where you can purchase entrance tickets, closer to the date.

A Grand Finale - almost like being on the catwalk in Paris.

Fashion statements!

Bye Bye Brook

Jan Verwers Photos: Michael Vogt

Brook is leaving us. Not for ‘New York’, as he sang on Saturday night, but for Bangkok. He has been in Chiang Mai for quite some time, first as a student at the Music Department of Payap University, after which with the help of celebrities such as former Broadway star Joan Eubank and local voice teacher Tianchai Sooktiang, he made a career as a soloist and a music teacher. Now it is time to let people elsewhere enjoy his beautiful baritone. Just to make us realize what we are going to miss, he gave a very well-attended Farewell concert at Gong Dee Gallery.

HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani has flowers for pianist Edward Winter and the departing Brook Kitavadhana who can be heard at The Raffles, Bangkok from now on.

Brook opened that concert (and probably the Christmas season in Chiang Mai) with arias from Georg Friedrich Hไndel’s “Messiah”. The libretto for Messiah was selected from the Old and New Testaments. In the original version, which is performed yearly throughout the world, a soprano, an alto, a tenor and a bass, as well as a chorus, are accompanied by an orchestra. This evening, Brook sang mostly arias that Hไndel wrote for bass, and also the well-known “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (which is normally sung by a soprano). His interpretations were of great intensity, showing a deep understanding of both the music and the texts. The minimum on coloratura, the vocal decorations that so easily divert the listener, showed the wonderful music in all its clearness. The orchestral accompaniment was played on the piano by Edward Winter.

Beautiful interaction and even comedy was shown by pianist and singer.

The second part of the concert was dedicated to songs from musicals. Many of the well-known composers were on the program. Brook dedicated some of the songs to his teachers Joan Eubank and Tianchai Sooktiang as well as to his long-time friend Noon for her coming marriage. The variety thrilled the audience when Brook started with sentimental musical sounds of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Sound of Music’, leading to ‘An Enchanted Evening’, sounds from South Pacific and songs from Stephen Sondheim.

The listeners were smitten and caught, even with some more serious sentimental love songs as Brook really has a way to keep everybody under his spell, together with the lively and skilful accompaniment by pianist Edward Winter.

With some sadness we say Goodbye to Brook. But he promised his audience, that one day he will be back.

Flowers from the oldest guest in the audience, the 92-year-old mother of Broadway star Joan Eubank who enjoyed the concert as much as everybody else.