Vol. VI No. 3 - Tuesday March 13, - March 19, 2007
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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thai wines find their match with Thai dishes

67 Water wells bring hope and joy to the North-East

Life in Chiang Mai

Thai wines find their match with Thai dishes

A tasting for charity

David Hardcastle
Over 40 lovers wine lovers attended the recent Thai wine with ‘Thai tapas’ tasting at the Four Seasons Resort & Spa in Mae Rim.

Joon from Horeca placed the highest bid during the auction.

Genial host and General Manager Andrew Harrison introduced the wines and the makers of Monsoon Valley, a label launched by Siam Winery in 2003 using grapes from the islands of the Chao Phraya River delta and the higher altitude Pak Chong Hills.
Thanks in large measure to French winemaker Laurent Metge-Toppin, a bronze medal was promptly won at an international competition in London and has helped launch Siam Winery’s labels into 15 countries.
“Zap ‘em with number one!” is a technique often used at wine tastings. Neither vintner nor imbiber wants the first of the evening to be a disappointment and so it was the brand new, dry-ish, Sauterne-ish White Shiraz 2007 that came out with the nibbles. A beautiful pinkish-gold color with a deceptively sweet bouquet immediately became our pick of the night, not to be bettered! Serve cool, not cold.

Left to right, Kim Wachveitl and Nabin Gurung of Siam Winery supplied the wines.

The enjoyable Malaga Blanc 2005 and Colombard 2005 whites followed with a Thai menu of tom yam kung, spicy prawns, grilled scallops and succulent northern pork curry with garlic.
The Rose 2005 must be the darkest rose in the world, with an equally robust flavor. Not delicate, this wine did go well with thord man pla and cheese samplers. As lovers of robust reds, we had looked forward to the Pokdum 2004, another award winner with a perfumed fruitiness. It started well on nose and tongue but we detected a less-than-pleasant finish. The same could not be said of Chef Pitak’s excellent laab and hot-as-you-like yam nua.
A boxed set of wine was successfully auctioned for 12,900 bht and the proceeds will go to the Princess Mother’s Foundation. This event underlined that now, if never before, Thai wines are to be taken seriously. Especially with Thai food!

All together now! Don’t forget to take off your shoes.

Chef Pitak preparing the Thai delicacies

67 Water wells bring hope and joy to the North-East

Splish, Splash I can now take a bath!

The Chiangmai based humanitarian organization, Operation Blessing, recently dedicated 67 new wells in the North East of Thailand across five provinces. Today there are a total of 230 wells meeting community needs for fresh water, since the Well Project began in Thailand in the year 2000.
In addition to drilling and preparing the well for use, OB also conducts water tests at each site to check whether the water is suitable for consumption. A plaque was prepared and placed at each well with the name of the village and sponsor. The cost of each well is approximately $1000 USD, bringing the total cost of this current project to 2,425,400 Thai Baht, or about $67,000 USD.
Mrs. Pen Panpet from Dang village in Yasothon province remarked, “Before Operation Blessing provided us this well, I would often go days without bathing because we had no water. Now we have fresh clean water and I can bathe regularly. Thank you so much.”
For more information on Operation Blessing, their Well Project, or the many other humanitarian services they provide are on their website at: www.obthailand.org

Young and old benefiting from Operation Blessing

Life in Chiang Mai

Mark Whitman
Workaholic, shopaholic, filmaholic. That’s me, the last, addicted to cinema like a druggie or someone hooked on nicotine.
Ever since I dodged the arrow coming straight at the audience (or so it seemed to a six year old) at the beginning of The Adventures of Robin Hood I’ve been besotted by the medium. When working in the business I might see upwards of 40 films -in part or whole - a week at a festival or film buyers market. Now retired, I’m down to a trickle. Even that is hard to maintain in Chiang Mai, given the poor pattern of release for movies.
Recently, I caught up with King Narasuan Part 2 and recommend it. Though to be honest I enjoyed the Thai drama-documentary Final Score much more. You can safely miss the heavy-duty slog of the first part. It is a hard to follow prologue of minimal cinematic value.
The second 160 minute section is full of daring do, romance and fine locations, which will set you up in happy anticipation of part 3, scheduled for release on December 5.
Knowing the form, I prepared for the three hour program. I donned by black Dr Scholl flight socks, out on shoes rather than casual footwear and if I’d worn baggy shorts and a silly T-shirt would have looked like a Pattaya-based farang. Instead I opted for jeans and a long sleeved shirt and with my Thai partner headed for Airport Plaza.
I enjoy these ice palaces; where else outside of a music filled local restaurant can one enjoy Thai company at its most convivial and noisy? There’s always the odd phone call, the interaction with young children as yet uninvolved with the violence of -say- Scorsese’s The Departed. There’s the obligatory popcorn, colas and fast foods which is doing so much to alter the exquisite Thai figure.
Finally, there’s the excitement of the stampede as the projectionist brutally chops off the end credits and brings up the house lights regardless of the tone of the movie. All too reminiscent of the moment when stir crazed passengers on long haul flights click out of their seat belts and lunge for the overhead lockers. Time has stood still for too long.
Yes I enjoy the cinema here. It is friendly, cheap (but getting dearer by the month like most things in Thailand) and provides a cool escape from the afternoon heat.
Sadly we do not get many of the more interesting movies shown in Bangkok. Whatever happened to
New World, for example, which was advertised here in December?
In November, Chiang Mai at least followed the capital in enjoying the16-film EU festival,in which eight were well worth seeing and one, The Child, from Belgium was a masterpiece. That oasis emerges in the desert only once a year. An alternative watering hole is found at the Alliance Francaise offices on a Friday night at 8p.m. The projection and hard seats reflect the 30baht entrance fee but the movies are incomparable.
This month they are excelling themselves. A Chabrol and a Renoir masterwork have already been shown but this March 16 there is Renoir’s La Bete Humaine, the best movie ever set on a train. Later there is a policier by Clouzot and most enjoyable of all the witty and thrilling Ne Touchez pas au Grisbi. More details on www. alliance-francaise.or.th or by phone 053 275 277.
Before Narasuan I had swigged medicine, packed lozenges and taken a handkerchief to stifle a cough. How did that come about I wondered. A week before in Phuket I was fine, never smoked in my life. Why me? Well of course it is not just yours truly.
As I was propelled into the afternoon haze I remembered that the sun seems hotter, the air less fresh even than last year.
Thousands of extra vehicles and innumerable flights have left their legacy as visitors came in search of flora and fauna.  No doubt back burning is rampant and no one but a fool denies global warming. Last year March 18 was the worst day for pollution in Chiang Mai. What will ten days bring?
The local authorities are aware of the problem and no doubt the exodus of residents and the reluctance of tourists to stay long will concentrate minds.  There have already been meetings and action should be forthcoming. In the meantime, you can contact the Urban Development Institute Foundation (www.udif.or.th) for advice and information.
It is without doubt a serious problem for the beautiful city. More serious it has to be said than the dearth of good movies.

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