Srinehru Hmong school gets new Facilities
road to Srinehru Hmong School on Doi Pui becomes a river during the rainy
If you had a high-powered telescope and knew exactly
where to look, you could see the Srinehru Hmong School peeking through the
jungle on Doi Pui. Standing on the mountain, you feel like you’re a few
hundred years in the past looking down on Chiangmai in the present.
As the crow flies, Srinehru School is about eight
kilometres from the centre of Chiangmai. By roads, perfect to non-existent,
it’s considerably further. You take the scenic, beautifully paved road to
Wat Doi Sutep for 32 km, then several more past the Phu Ping Palace. Soon
the road narrows to one asphalt lane snaking through the jungle. At the
junction to the town of Doi Pui, you take a right towards the national park
and the road degenerates quickly. The right fork at the first park building
takes you down a dirt road to the main park that will test your courage,
driving skills and your vehicle.
From the park to the village of Khun Chang Khian where
Srinehru is located, you’d better have a 4-wheel drive, an off-road
motorcycle, a bicycle and massive legs, or a Honda Dream with a native Thai
chauffeur and several tranquilizers. You’ll wonder whether you’re on a
road or river bed. During the rainy season, it can officially be called a
stream. The good news: It’s an absolutely stunning trip (especially in
January when the Japanese cherry trees are in bloom) with a welcome stop at
the coffee hut at a 30 year coffee plantation just before the town where you
can reassemble your skeletal system.
extension allows students to eat together as well as adding more room for
assembly and meetings.
Stories of kids injured in the toilets and being portaged
to the hospital in Chiangmai during the rainy season compelled FERC
(Foundation for the Education of Rural Children) to help the school. About
175 children attend Srinehru. Though they’ve had donations of solar power
facilities and a fancy computer room from other organizations, it’s
difficult to concentrate on learning when your legs are crossed because you
don’t want to tackle the toilet. The entire septic system was
disintegrating, the water system was marginal and the canteen had to serve
lunch in several shifts. The sinister odours confirmed the need for
assistance. The money for the project was raised in February 2005 at our 6th
Annual FERC Gala Give and Live Benefit at Baan Wongmalee, but Mother Nature
prevented construction completion until September.
Dangerous broken toilets, leaking septic system and very bad odors.
Several folks from FERC, the Rotary Club and the Thai
Worldwide Foundation ventured up one dry Saturday in late October to see the
completed project and were greeted by most of the school children playing on
the school field, dressed in their multi-colored, traditional Hmong
All of the facilities are built soundly and are now being
used routinely. After a couple of growing seasons to cover the excavation
and construction remnants, the buildings will complement the sweet, serene
atmosphere of the school. We were treated to a few songs with clapping,
wai-ing and thanks from all the children.
New bank of safe, clean toilets for 175 Srinehru students.
The septic system, new toilets and canteen addition cost
about 400,000 baht with a substantial portion of the expenses incurred by
the transportation of materials up the mountain. The delivery of the water
tank was halted by water from the sky and the stream road. The Rotary Club
and the Dutch non-profit Samsara Foundation added another 30,000 baht for
the water purification system. Annelie Hendriks from Samsara supervised the
construction of the entire project.
While the rest of the folks rattled their bones back in
their trucks, I chose to stroll the five kilometers to my motorcycle left
near the park entrance. It was a bright sunny day, perfect for a stroll
through the mountains. At the coffee hut, I met a couple of travelers from
Belgium, and after a bit of conversation about why I was walking through the
jungle with a riding jacket, gloves and helmet, the Muslim woman gave me 500
baht for another of our donation recipients, Children’s Garden Orphanage
near Doi Saket, as her humanitarian service during the Islamic month of
Ramadan. That money will take care of all lodging, food, education and
medical expenses for the 30 kids at Children’s Garden for a day. Then I
met another man on the road, Ron Bator from Canada and Chiangmai, who is
looking for projects to help with a newly-formed Betterment for Life
I think I’ll make it a point to walk through the jungle everyday.
FERC, a registered non-profit in USA and Thailand,
partners with Give and Live, a registered non-profit in the USA, and the
Samsara Foundation to raise funds, present events, build schools and
dormitories, and provide learning materials, scholarships, and necessary
living expenses for needy children in Thailand. Please visit our websites
for more information and donation opportunities: www.giveandlive.org and
students in traditional Hmong dress sing thanks for the new facilities.
water purification tank was waylaid by the water during the rainy season.
Jazz under a Lanna sky on the lawn
Bangkok International Big Band were “In the mood” for a great
The ever-growing popularity of Jazz music, especially
amongst young people, was clearly reflected last weekend, when around 600
music enthusiasts on the opening night came to see and hear, a great variety
of Jazz music, on the lawn of the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Resort
The performances covered many corners of Jazz music, be
it Standard, Acid, Fusion, Big Band and Pop Jazz, and the stage was set
amidst the magnificent backdrop of Chedis and architectural wonders, adding
this special and unique extra touch of Lanna heritage, giving the festival
itss name, “Jazz under a Lanna sky”.
Jazz with ETC, featuring Thostten on the trumpet
Jennifer Kim, one of the featured artists on both nights,
said after her performance that “the feeling in Chiang Mai is very
special, and distinguishes Jazz events from shows in other parts of the
country. Here (in Chiang Mai), it all seems to be more natural, and we can
feel the spirit of the audience on stage. Jazz festivals in other parts of
the country are certainly great fun and entertaining, but they simply feel
more commercial, whereby Chiang Mai is simply natural.”
Although Chiang Mai certainly has its own pool of
prominent musicians such as “Big Boy and Friends”, bands and soloists
were also brought in from Bangkok, such as “Breakfast Wine”, “ETC”,
the “Bangkok International Big Band”, and soloist Sekpol Unsamran,
better known as “Koh, Mr. Saxman” and Jennifer Kim, promoting her latest
album “Nothing to lose”. As this festival took place on the eve of HM
The King’s birthday, a known Jazz lover and musician himself, each band
included one of His Majesty’s compositions, adding an auspicious touch to
Kim and Koh Mr. Saxman during their jazzy rendition of “Quando quando”
The festival also aimed to promote tourism to Chiang Mai
and the North, as well as creating awareness for, and interest in,
“music” in general, especially to the younger ones. The Bangkok-based
“Sax Society”, a music school founded by Koh and thus primarily and
obviously focused on the saxophone, had a group of students performing,
after having only studied for eight weeks. “There’s no better way of
distracting young folks from drugs and alcohol abuse through music, and for
us teachers it’s a challenging, yet rewarding mission
to search for that music
al talent sleeping inside
of everyone”, said Koh. More information via www. saxsociety.com.
with the Dhara Dhevi as well as with Jazz music were (from left) Sun
Subsaeng, Suchet Suwanmongkol, Koh Mr. Saxman, saxophonist Prasit “Sin”
Sisuktaveerat, and Michael Vogt, Chiangmai Mail.
This Jazz festival was the first one after a break of 10 years, and it
was not planned to be a big event. The organizers and musicians wanted to
learn about Chiang Mai’s response and interest, and both were positive.
Rest assured that Chiang Mai won’t have to wait another 10 years for the
next festival, and organizers behind the scenes already spoke about bringing
in international artists for 2006. It sounds like Jazz has found a new
destination, and cool Jazz can now be enjoyed in the cool north.
magnificent stage, perfectly illuminated and sound-checked
Third Debussy concert
Sakthamcharoen conducts Pitijet Vichitporn, Chaipreuk Mekara, Bennett
Lerner and Judith Utley in Ravel’s Introduction
As was announced at the first concert of this festival in
July, each Debussy concert will bring a different set of instruments. This
time those were, besides the piano, the flute and the clarinet, and very
prominently, the harp.
Debussy often used the harp to enrich the timbres in his
orchestral works, but in many of his compositions the harp acts as a solo
instrument. On this evening we listened to a beautiful example of this last
group, “Deux dances” (Two Dances), composed in 1904, originally for harp
and string orchestra. Both the ‘Dance sacr้e’ and the ‘Dance
profane’ were magnificently interpreted by Judith Utley, with piano
accompaniment from Bennet Lerner.
Judith came back at the end of the concert, when she
played the solo part in Maurice Ravel’s “Introduction et Allegro” for
harp, flute, clarinet and string quartet. Here again, the string part was
played by Bennet Lerner on the piano. Although the undulating motion of the
strings was somewhat missed, in this form the composition was favorably
transformed into a kind of quartet, with the voices of Pitijet Vichiporn’s
flute and Chaipreuk Mekara’s clarinet nicely competing with the silvery
tones of Judith’s harp.
Annette George gave an intimate rendition of Debussy’s
composition for solo flute, “Syrinx” (1913), which is considered by many
musicians to be the ultimate piece for flute. The composer originally gave
it the title “La flute de Pan”, referring to the Hellenistic river nymph
Syrinx, who, while trying to escape from the god Pan, was transformed in
reed, from which Pan then created the first shepherd’s pipe.
Judith Utley’s interpretations of Debus-sy and Ravel were great-ly
appreciated by the public.
The name of the French composer was also present in
Thorsten Wollmann’s composition “Prelude on the Name of Claude
Debussy”. Chaipreuk Mekara played it on clarinet, with Bennett on the
piano. After which followed Chaipreuk’s own composition “Young
Memory”, also for clarinet and piano. The editor of the printed program in
this case even gave the name of this piece in Thai, an honor that was not
awarded to Debussy, whose often beautiful French titles were only given in
their English translation.
Bennett Lerner again chose two compositions for piano
solo from Debussy’s extensive list. He started with the picturesque
“Suite bergamasque”, four dances, written in 1890. It includes one of
Debussy’s best known piano pieces, “Clair de lune” (Moonlight), and
was once described as ‘a first flowering of the essential Debussian
atmosphere’. Later that evening he played the “Etudes pour le piano”,
Book 1, giving it a very useful short verbal introduction. Written in the
footsteps of Couperin and Chopin, they are truly ‘practice pieces’, but
at the same time, they are poetic works of art, full of fantasy and charm.
The interpreter here has the difficult task to overcome the considerable
technical difficulties and make them sound like music. In both compositions
Bennett Lerner proved that the fame he has earned as performer of
Debussy’s piano music is well-deserved.
The 200 visitors to this concert proved that it is not impossible to
arrive at Payap’s concert hall at night!
musicians after a successful concert.