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Chakri Dynasty commemorated on April 6

Cricketers descend on Chiang Mai

Life in Chiang Mai

20 things to do during Songkran

Chakri Dynasty commemorated on April 6

Chakri Dynasty - Chronology of the present-day Dynasty of Thailand

Chakri Day (April 6) was first instituted by H.M. King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) in the year 1919 to commemorate all the Kings in the Chakri Dynasty, which started with Rama I and continues to this day with Rama IX, H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great.

The reigning Kings in the House of Chakri brought peace and tranquility to the people within Thailand’s borders and successfully protected the Kingdom, maintaining sovereignty and integrity through crucial periods threatened by European colonization and two World Wars.

In commemorating Chakri Day the national flag is proudly displayed by the people of Thailand and all government officials and members of the community participate in traditional ceremonies, making offerings of flowers and garlands at the many statues of Kings in the House of Chakri.

The Chakri Dynasty was ushered in on 6 April 1782 when a close aid of King Taksin, General Chakri, marched back into Thonburi and assumed the throne as H.M. King Buddha Yod Fa Chulalok the Great (Rama I). Each Monarch thereafter has had “Rama” as part of their title.

Banks, government offices and most business offices are closed on Friday, April 6 in observance of this special day.

King Buddha Yod Fa Chula Lok the Great
(Rama I) 1782-1809

King Buddha Yod Fa Chula Lok was born in Ayutthaya on March 20, 1737, the son of Phra Aksorn Sundara Smiantra, he was formerly known as Thong Duang. Following the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 he entered the service of Phraya Taksin and fought by his side in almost every campaign until the latter became King Taksin, establishing the capital at Dhonburi. He was created Luang Yorkrabat, then Phra Rajvarin, Chao Phraya Chakri and eventually Somdetch Chao Phraya Maha Kashatriya Suk by King Taksin, and following the deposition of King Taksin in 1782 at the age of 45 he was chosen King, becoming the founder and first ruler of the House of Chakri two hundred years ago. On the year of his accession he moved the capital from Dhonburi to the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River, thus founding the city of Bangkok. It was during his reign that the Grand Palace was constructed and he installed the Emerald Buddha in the Chapel Royal following its completion. He died in Bangkok on September 7, 1809 and, as many historians have stated, the modern Siam dates from his reign.

King Buddha Loet La Nabhalai
(Rama II) 1809-1824

King Buddha Loet La Nabhalai was the son of King Rama I. He born in Rajaburi on February 26, 1768 he accompanied his father on military campaigns as a young man. He was 16 when his father ascended the throne and was immediately created a Prince of the rank of Somdetch Chao Fa and given the name of Isarasundorn. Appointed Maha Uparaja, or Deputy King by his father in 1806, he was the only Maha Uparaja to eventually succeed to the throne during the period of the Chakri Dynasty. He became king on the death of his father at the age of 42, King Rama I. His reign was a period of consolidating the achievements of the previous reign and he began the custom of appointing senior princes to supervise over the different departments of state. He is best remembered though for his interest in the arts. He was an artist, writer, composer, which flourished during his reign. He died on July 21,1824, at the age of 58.

King Nang Klao
(Rama III) 1824-1851

King Nang Klao was born in Bangkok on March 31, 1788 the future King Rama III was the son of King Rama II by a junior wife, Chao Chom Riem. At the time of the death of King Rama II his supposed heir, Prince Mongkut, had entered a monastery as a monk and Prince Chesda Bondindra, as he was then styled, was chosen as king by the Accession Council at the age of 37 and reigned for 27 years. He proved an able ruler and during his reign trade prospered and territorial advances were made as the vassal states of the north and east came more firmly under the rule of Bangkok. During his rule, in 1833, the first treaty with the United States was signed. King Rama III had no queen and thus had no children of Chao Fa rank, and so on his death on April 2, 1851 at the age of 65, the succession passed to his half-brother, who became King Mongkut (Rama IV). Although he had no son to reign as King it is an interesting genealogical fact that among his descendants were five future Kings, because his granddaughter, Queen Debsirindra, was the mother of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), thus every descendant of King Chulalongkorn has a lineal descent from King Rama III.

His Majesty King Mongkut (Rama IV) 1851-1868

His Majesty King Mongkut was born on Thursday the 18th of October 1804. He was the second son of Phra Buddha Lertla Naphalai (King Rama II) and Queen Sri Suriyendra. His Majesty King Mongkut modernized Thailand in both commerce and education, and instituted reforms, which would adapt the country to western ways. Known as the “Father of Thai Scientists”, he was famous for his astrology. Before becoming King, the then Prince Mongkut entered the monkhood. Ironically, it was this period in monkhood, which required him to take a vow of poverty and self-denial, which gave Prince Mongkut a good understanding of statecraft. It allowed him to meet people from all walks of life, from the humblest to the elite, Thais as well as foreigners. He travelled to various parts of the Kingdom, barefoot, depending on offerings of food and other necessities from the people. From the Thais, he gained an invaluable first-hand insight into their welfare and livelihood. From the foreigners, he obtained precious information about the outside world, especially about technology and science.

King Chulalongkorn
the Great
(Rama V) 1868-1910

Also known as Phra Chula Chomklao Chaoyuhua, and the eldest son of King Rama IV, King Chulalongkorn was born in Bangkok on September 20, 1853 and was crowned King on October 1, 1868, following the death of his father. The first few years of his reign were under a regency. King Chulalongkorn is perhaps the most revered of all the Chakri Kings. During his long reign of 42 years 23 days great advances were achieved for the country.

The King actively pursued a policy of modernizing the country and had a number of Europeans in his service to oversee such projects as the building of the first railway in Thailand. He himself made two visits to Europe, one in 1897 and another in 1907, during which he became acquainted with most of the rulers of Europe. He successfully managed to cultivate the idea of Siam as a buffer state between the colonial possessions of the European powers in South East Asia. The price he paid for losing certain border territories was amply rewarded, for Siam was never colonized - the only country in the region to maintain its sovereignty throughout the period of colonial expansionism. He died on October 23, 1910.

King Vajiravudh
(Rama VI) 1910-1925

King Vajiravudh was born at Bangkok on January 1, 1881. King Vajiravudh’s reigning title was Phra Mongkut Klao Chaoyuhua, was the second son of King Chulalongkorn.

Following the death of his elder half-brother, Crown Prince Maha Vajirunhis, in 1895, he was appointed Crown Prince. He was educated in England and his great love of literature and poetry in both Thai and English together with his scholastic abilities was later to manifest itself during his reign. Among his lasting achievements were devising a system of transliteration of Thai into English and of translating the entire works of Shakespeare into Thai. His passion for traditional Thai theatre and ballet has left a mass of published scores, which form the basis of the study of these arts to the present day. In 1916 King Vajiravudh declared war on Germany and Thai troops fought with the Allies during the latter part of World War I. He died in Bangkok on November 26, 1925 at the early age of 44.

King Prajadhipok
(Rama VII) 1925-1935

King Prajadhipok was born in Bangkok on November 8,1893. King Prajadhipok succeeded to the throne on the death of his elder brother, King Vajiravudh. His reign coincided with the worldwide economic depression, which followed the Wall Street crash of 1929, but its effects were not unfelt in Siam. On April 6, 1932 the country celebrated the sesquicentenary of the Chakri Dynasty, two months later a coup d’etat was staged with the eventual transferral of power to a Legislative Assembly. Thus the 150-year absolute rule of the Chakri Kings came to an end and the Constitutional Monarchy of the present day was born. On December 10, 1932 King Prajadhipok granted a constitution to the Thai people and just over two years later, on March 2, 1935, having gone to live in England in order to receive medical treatment, he abdicated the throne. King Prajadhipok died in England on May 30,1941, during World War II, and his ashes were brought back to Bangkok by his widow, Queen Rambhai Barni, in 1949.

King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) 1935-1946

King Ananda Mahidol born on September 20,1925,the elder son and second child of H.R.H. Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, Prince of Songkla. He succeeded his uncle, King Prajadhipok, as King on March 2, 1935. King Ananda Mahidol spent his early years in Switzerland, receiving his education there and made occasional trips to Thailand. He returned to Bangkok after the end of World War II, but his life and his reign came to an abrupt end when he died, on June 9, 1946. King Ananda Mahidol was never crowned and shortly after his death his younger brother and successor, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, posthumously altered his regnal title and raised him from seven to nine levels of royal umbrella, as a fully crowned and anointed sovereign.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (Rama IX)
1946 to the present

HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) was born on December 5, 1927. He succeeded his elder brother as King on June 9, 1946. On April 28, 1950 King Bhumibol Adulyadej was married to Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara, a great-granddaughter of King Chulalongkorn and the following week, on May 5, 1950, was crowned as King and his wife was installed as Queen in a glittering ceremony in the Grand Palace. Their Majesties have four children, Princess Ubol Ratana Rajakanya, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Princess Chulabhorn Valayalaksana. During his reign King Bhumibol Adulyadej made numerous state visits abroad as well as having received many Heads of State in Bangkok.

As his reign advances, the growing reverence of the Thai people for their sovereign has become ever more apparent. On May 5, 1987, to mark his then forthcoming 60th birthday, the prime minister of Thailand proclaimed King Bhumibol Adulyadej “the Great”. On July 2, 1988, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great celebrated his record reign - the day on which he had reigned longer than any of his predecessors. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his accession to the Thai Throne in June 2006, HM the King and Queen presided over splendid festivities as representatives of 25 royal houses from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia had come to Bangkok to honour His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great. To this day, he remains the longest reigning monarch in the world.

Excerpts courtesy of Sawasdee magazine/Chiangmai Mail


Cricketers descend on Chiang Mai

Hundreds gather for a roaring start to the Sixes

Over 400 cricketers landed in the Porn Ping Tower Hotel’s main ballroom to officially begin the 20th Annual Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes tournament.

Teams from as far away as England and Australia showed up in force to meet and greet their competitors who will battle it out this week at the Gymkhana Club.

Over succulent canap้s and several free flow bars, the excitement of greeting old friends and team players lasted several hours as tourney director Maurice Bromley tried to get in a few words over the roars of the crowds. It is Maurice’s last year as Tournament Director but he knows the future of the Chiang Mai Sixes will be in the good hands of Ray Matti who takes over next year.

Lifelong friendships brought the stars and guests back together and memories were shared and remembered of years gone by.

Players, family and friends represented this year come from the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, England, Japan, Bangladesh, China, New Zealand, Bahrain, Thailand, Wales and Vietnam.

The most colorful team at the welcoming cocktail was the Awali Taverners, dressed in retina damaging bright striped jackets- their outfits were a definite crowd pleaser.

The players and fans are out in force this week at the Gymkhana Club from 8:30am until 5:30pm through Saturday, the day of the finals.

The Sixes official sponsors, European Safety Concepts (ESC) headed by Steve Graham and the Chiangmai Mail announced that next year the Cricketers can continue to count on their support. The winning team will be able to return next year with an added bonus of complimentary accommodations while the runners up will enjoy a fun packed weekend in Pattaya.

San Miguel Beer, an additional sponsor provided all the cold brew for the evening and all were very grateful.

If Chiang Mai has been hurting the past few weeks from the lack of visitors, no doubt the Cricketers will make have made their presence known while in town this week.

Welcome back and HOWZAT!


Life in Chiang Mai

Mark Whitman

A recent Thursday, the Ides of March, was something of a red letter day for me. Nothing too spectacular- simply a trip to the Chiang Mai airport to see a friend off on the first leg of his journey back to the English spring.

Don’t misunderstand me. I wasn’t celebrating Bill’s departure, on the contrary. He had been the perfect guest, having booked his own flights at sensible times, found a pleasant, accessible hotel and stayed here for just four days and three nights.

Recalling the adage about fish and guests going off after three days Bill was simply the last in a long, long line of visitors. The novelty had worn off. Bill had been an enthusiast about the city and its surrounds, especially the splendid Wat Phra Tat Hariphunca at Lamphun and was eager to return later in the year for a trip further north. But his going marked an anniversary, four months to the day since the first of some 20 arrivals.

In light of that I offer the following observations, which are not meant as churlish, to help you - and me - deal with future onslaughts. Perhaps clip the article to any city guide you offer future guests. A nod, we are assured, is as good as a wink to a non sighted horse. Believe me, that remark is apt given the directional sense of some tourists.

Of course we really would hate to be without individual visitors. They are friends or relatives who should bring something of home with them. Here I exclude all hand me downs, those who are passed on to us with words as chilling as any uttered inside a torture chamber. “I gave Grover your address and mobile number. You’ll love him; they call him the bear…such fun to be with”. Says who? What induces a so-called friend to assume that an oversized, over stressed bore from Illinois will bring sanook (fun) into you already happy life?

But I digress. I was saying they were welcome. They may stimulate us into viewing Chiang Mai afresh, rekindling enthusiasms for things we take for granted (Doi Suthep excluded). Perhaps they will discover something we missed and respond to those we know with pleasure. Marvel at the Wats, enjoy excursions, gasp at the range of food on offer, be fascinated by the moat and its fountains and lurching walls. They will shop for second hand books, and at the myriad markets, and enjoy a trip on the river or an outing to Chiang Dao.

Hopefully they will have glanced at a map to sense where they are, skimmed through a decent guide book, checked out a few basics on Thai manners and culture and like boy scouts be prepared.

But have they? From personal and anecdotal evidence I would say that too few will display such courtesy. Many will drive you to drink and ten percent to thoughts of murder. And the one who opts for a six week stay will make it seems like six months servitude.

So take courage dear reader. The next time someone moots a trip north think carefully.

What about little me? How will I cope? Be resolute before you are reduced to mush by a weather commentary that somehow suggests you are personally to blame for the hot afternoons and cold nights, or are responsible for the tuk-tuk driver refusing to give change for a thousand baht note.

The problem is that you have ceased to be a friend or uncle. You have become an unpaid tour guide with little better to do than field complaints or check cinema listings. Whatever is wrong is your fault simply because YOU LIVE HERE. Ipso facto, you are to blame for the soup being too spicy, the crowds at the walking street or night bazaar, a delayed flight, the climb up Doi Suthep, even the sad state of Chiang Mai’s pavements.

You will also be deemed odd, possibly stingy for not finding it cheap to live here. That person on a generous holiday budget who blithely orders a third bottle of wine because it is cheaper here than New York or Stockholm will also note that the meal is costing a third of what it might back home.

Four months into this mind numbing insensitivity, as you glance ruefully at your bank passbook you will also recall how you were cajoled into that weekend away in Phuket. Oh do come, you know the area so much better than we do, now translates as we are too lazy to make our own arrangements. And those flights and hotels (remember you already have a condo back north) seem hideously expensive.

All comes right in the end; two days before they are off there will be that magnanimous offer of dinner for you and your friend to thank you for all you’ve done for us, especially the driving.

Personally I’d sooner have a three day break at the Four Seasons if they are feeling so bloody grateful. Fat chance! Not least because the very day they leave for the Maldives and a real rest the next party will arrive beaming at the airport. “What a sweet little car… do you think your driver could get us a taxi for the luggage? And you did remember that extra large bed with the firm mattress and the heavy curtains?... you know how Roger can’t bear the early morning light…and don’t forget a super English breakfast…no Thai food before 8p.m. that’s our motto… and by the way you never replied to my mail about our new diet....”


20 things to do during Songkran

Robert Carl

I was walking through Central Dept. Store recently and was amused by all the colorful shirts with wild patterns and designs. While my mind was amused, my stomach was in knots – for even those of us who are wardrobe-challenged know that those shirts mean Songkran is getting close.

For those of you who arrived in Thailand after April, 2006, a short description of Songkran is: Thailand’s national days of insanity. It is a holiday with deep traditions and celebrations of water – the mother of all life. Once you would offer water to a heated traveler. Once you would pour water over the wrists of a respected elder as a sign of your respect. Now it has become a free for all opportunity to throw ice cold water on anything that moves – most desirable is a poor soul on a motorbike — or better yet, three or four souls on one motorbike.

Once, it was a holiday where you returned to your home village to honor your parents and pay respect to the elders of your community. Now it is an invitation to hit the highway at any hour and for any distance – no matter how much alcohol you have consumed and no matter how long it has been since you slept. Sometimes it seems that a successful Songkran is defined only if the highway death toll exceeds the previous year or the number of damaged, hurt and scarred people includes at least one person that you know.

Tens of thousands of tourists come to Chiang Mai to participate. Tens of thousands of Chiang Mai residents leave. Tens of thousands more stay and refuse to go out of the house.

I started to think about making a list of things that we could do to perhaps make Songkran a more pleasant holiday for those of us who remain in Chiang Mai. The majority of the complainers are expats. Thai people love the wild abandon of these few days when almost anything goes (as long it is cold and wet).

Here is my list of suggestions:
1. Find your list of New Year’s resolutions; do one of them.
2. Write down the three things you most enjoy about living in Thailand. Tape that list to your telephone so that when another expat calls to complain about Songkran, you can say: “yes, but I really enjoy the…… remain positive at all times
3. Go to one of Chiang Mai’s great spas – for a whole day
4. Rent a car—and driver—for one whole day. Then drive up and down the Klong– feeling a sense of relief and joy that it is not your car being dented and scratched when pelted with hunks of ice
5. While you’ve got that car and driver, pick up someone older than yourself and take them somewhere they want to go – Note: it goes a lot smoother if you know the elderly person before you pick them up and put them into your car
6. Bake dozens and dozens of cookies – if you live in a high rise building, set a nice small table in the corner of the elevator and attractively display the cookies—label them a Songkran sweet. If you don’t live in a high rise, take the cookies to the Temple
7. Have sex with someone new – once. Or if you have a partner, have sex with them twice
8. Iron a t-shirt and fold it the “Martha Stewart Way” – then iron it again since all you did was wrinkle it into a big ball
9. Since this is a celebration of life and renewal, change the batteries in all of the remote controls in your home –whether they need it or not
10. Read about the history and traditions of Songkran—pretend those traditions still exist
11. Do only two of the following things at the same time: drive your motorbike; smoke a cigarette; talk on your cell phone
12. Resolve to obey all traffic laws for one day—that would make Songkran a festival everyone would anticipate
13. Shower with a romantic partner; take a plastic cup, fill it with water……need I say more?
14. Have one of the nice restaurants cater a dinner for two in your home – then review #8 above
15. Donate something to charity
16. Hug someone of the same gender – now that wasn’t so bad, was it…?
17. When driving, resolve that you will stay in the same lane for at least 60 seconds
18. Promise to put no more than two people on your motorbike at one time
19. If the combined ages of the people on your motorbike exceed 40, then at least one of you doesn’t belong on that bike; if you have three people on your bike and the combined ages do not reach 40, and then stop – none of you belong on that bike
20. Telephone someone you have not talked to in more than 2 months; if no one fits into that category, dial a stranger and see if you can get a conversation going….then review #8 above.