engulfed in flames
100 million in damages and 200 jobless
than 200 employees go jobless as their workplace goes up in smoke.
A major fire swept through Chiang Rai’s oldest shopping
mall causing an estimated 100 million baht in damages and leaving at least
200 employees jobless.
The blaze began last Wednesday evening at 9:30pm after
the Api Plaza shopping mall had closed.
Authorities believe a short circuit was to blame for the
sparks that engulfed the three story building and threatened a nearby hotel.
It took three hundred firefighters and 50 engines about
three hours to contain the massive blaze. Strong winds threatened the Krung
Thong Hotel next door where all guests were evacuated. The hotel suffered
The fire apparently began by a short circuit in a room
where clothing was being stored and then quickly spread gutting the entire
Total damages are still being assessed but it is believed
they could go as high as 200 million baht. Apparently the store owners only
had a 10 million baht insurance policy.
The Api Plaza is owned by the Apinivet family and had been in business
for some 20 years. They plan to reopen a new branch in the near future.
Freak storm damages 8 homes and causes power outages
support pole came crashing down on eight homes during last weeks powerful
A quick but powerful storm raced through Chiang Mai last
Wednesday causing damage, power outages and traffic congestion.
Flimsy outdoor billboards around the city came crashing
down or were blown away as heavy winds and rain surprised most residents.
The fast moving storm caused power outages in Phra Pok
Klao, Somphech Market and Mae Hiya. Power was restored in just over three
The worst structural damage occurred at Pimanthip Drive
Range on Mahidol Road, Prasing district when a support pole used to hold up
a net was blown over damaging eight houses in the process.
The homes suffered structural and roof damage and
fortunately no one was injured.
Star Dome Company who owns the golf driving range, and will be
responsible for reimbursing the homeowners who suffered damages. The
authorities have closed the driving range until repairs are completed.
Private jet mishap shuts
down airport for 4 hours
private jet’s aborted takeoff caused a four hour shutdown at the airport.
A U.S. registered private jet attempting to take off from
Chiang Mai Airport suffered a burst tire forcing an emergency stop on the
The Cessna 10 seat model with two US pilots on aboard
were scheduled to fly to Hong Kong after a brief re-fueling stop at the
The incident occurred on April 18 at about 2:30pm and
forced the airport to close down the runway forcing a four hour delay for
all flight services.
Airport authorities launched their rescue operations and
traffic officials began to re-schedule flights while the plane was moved to
clear the runway.
Aircraft tires that burst during takeoffs and landings
are not uncommon according to airport officials.
The private jet belonging to the US charter company John
Minns Aviation Service apparently did not suffer major damage and the two
pilots were unharmed.
Hundreds of passengers scheduled on commercial flights
were inconvenienced due to the delays. The airport returned to normal
operations five hours later.
A procedural investigation is underway according to airport officials.
361 die during Songkran
The seven-day nationwide Songkran holidays from April
11-17 saw a total of 4,274 road accidents with 361 deaths and 4,805 injured,
according to Permanent Secretary for Interior Mr. Pongpayom Wasaphuti.
Mr. Pongpayom concluded that the government campaign to
reduce the casualties during Songkran was successful as the number of
travelers killed this year was 14 lower than last year. The number of
accidents though was 77 more than last year.
Most accidents involved motorcycles, drunk driving and
The highest number of accidents was reported in Chiang
Rai province with 160 followed by the province of Udon Thani with 135 and
Chiang Mai with 130 accidents.
The number of deaths in Chiang Mai totaled 13 during Songkran. (CMM
Two killed and 4 kilos
of heroin seized
of an unidentified man suspected of transporting heroin was shot dead during
a clash with the Thai army.
Soldiers from the Thai army encountered five alleged drug
traffickers who were apparently transporting a large quantity of heroin in
Chiang Mai province.
Two of the alleged traffickers were shot dead and more
than four kilos of heroin was seized in a fight with Thai soldiers near the
border with Myanmar, army officials said.
It remains unclear who was responsible for the deaths of
the alleged traffickers.
The clash took place at a village in Wiang Haeng district
of Chiang Mai province when five armed men fired at soldiers after refusing
a search. Gunfire was exchanged for about 10 minutes before three of the
alleged drug traffickers fled the scene.
Soldiers later searched the area and found the bodies of
two alleged traffickers. They also found two guns and ammunition, as well as
more than four kilos of heroin shaped into bars left behind.
Army officials said they had gone into the area after
receiving tips on illegal drug smuggling. The scene of the fighting took
place inside Thai border and about two kilometers from a United Wa State
Army’s base on the Thai-Myanmar border but Army officials believe the
deceased were of the Lisu hilltribe community.
Army officials said they believed the heroin was intended
to be smuggled to a third country via Bangkok.
This is the second seizure in as many weeks to take place in the area as
the army increases its patrols in order to minimize drug trafficking. (CMM
Songkrash on the Mae Jo road
the motorcycle but ended up on its side.
The driver of this nearly new pick up must have thought
he’d got through the worst of Songkran unscathed before a motorcycle
changed lanes without warning directly in front of him.
The accident occurred on the last official day of Songkran at
approximately 6.30 pm on the Chiang Mai – Mae Jo Road, halfway between the
Superhighway and the first ring road intersection. While the motorcyclist
drove on – possibly unaware of the havoc caused – the pick up heading
for Mae Jo swerved, lost control, turned over and stopped on its side facing
Chiang Mai. Luckily, no serious casualties were reported. (CMM
Foreigner found dead in the moat
Identity a mystery
Chiang Mai Muang police were called to city moat on Mool
Muang Road after receiving a call that a foreigner’s body was found
floating in the water on April 14th.
The body was discovered at 5pm by a passerby opposite the
Press Bar and Restaurant in Tambon Phrasing.
The police recovered the body and transported it to
Maharaj Nahkon Hospital.
The victim, a male between the ages of 40 to 45
apparently had been dead for at least two days before being discovered.
According to the police the deceased was not carrying any
identification and as of yet they have not received any calls from family or
friends reporting any missing foreigners.
The police said the body showed no signs of assault or
injury and they suspect the victim was under the influence at the time of
It is unknown if the man went into the moat for a swim or
had fallen in.
Anyone with information that may lead to the identification of the victim
is urged to contact the Chiang Mai police. (CMM Reporters)
City hosts youths from
the southern provinces
A new government initiative has been implemented in an
effort to provide children who live in the Southern provinces an opportunity
to temporarily escape the violence affecting their region by visiting
tourist attractions in the Northern provinces.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand hosted a group of 45
youths representing three provinces from the south; Yala, Pattani, and
Narathivas border provinces and spent one of their days touring the Chiang
Mai zoo where they enjoyed visiting the pandas and other animals on display.
A representative of the youth group said he felt so lucky
to have this chance to travel to the Northern region where people are very
kind and generous.
"I feel very impressed with the Chiang Mai people
and will tell my friends, emphasizing that if they have chance they should
come up for a visit. I really hope that I will be back," he added.
This travel project to the North was initiated by the government who
believes that providing opportunities such as this one will bring on more
awareness to the participants and provide them with a chance to discover
more about Thailand which otherwise would be impossible.
Mae Hong Son airport
wants to expand
photo of Mae Hong Son airport where officials want to expand the runway.
Officials from the Mae Hong Son Airport have made a
request to state and national budget offices for and additional 20 million
baht to expand its runway and equip the airport in Pai with runway lights.
Suthep Khemthong, Director of the Mae Hong Son Airport
stated that additional air services could be increased to both cities if the
monies were made available for next years fiscal budget.
Airport official made a request last year for 20 million
baht to expand Pai’s runway from the existing 710 meters long distance to
1,000 meters. However, the request was rejected by Ministry of
Transportation and the cabinet.
Pai Airport officials want to increase the number of
flights and attract more tourism to their city. Currently the city of Pai is
served by one airline with one flight a day.
Worathep Kanthadee, Chief of the Tourist Association in Pai believes that
by expanding and improving the airport more tourists will choose Pai as a
More than 100 fires deliberately
set in Chiang Rai
Police in search of arsonists
Chiang Rai Police were in search for those responsible in
setting at least 105 fires in the forests near Doi Tung Palace that scorched
at least 1,200 rai of land.
District Officer Chief of Mae Fah Luang Somchai
Roongsakorn told reporters that an urgent investigation had begun and the
authorities were in hot pursuit of the culprits who started the fires on
both sides the road to Phra That Doi Tung and Doi Tung Palace on the top of
Doi Mae Fah Luang Mountain.
Representatives from Chiang Rai Provincial Forest Office,
the Forest Fire Control Units, the Mae Fah Luang Police Station and various
hill tribes held a meeting to discuss the situation and attempt to determine
who was responsible for setting the fires.
Clearing brush by fire is a normal practice in the region
but forest property is considered off limits for farming.
The Doi Tung Palace is one of Chiang Rai’s main tourist attractions.
The fires have been contained and the authorities have promised that those
responsible will face severe punishment for their actions. (CMM
Lin Hui may finally be pregnant
Chiang Mai’s Lin Hui may be pregnant as her hormone
level is increasing, according to the director general of the Zoological
may finally have succeeded in impregnating Lin Hui, shown here during the
artificial insemination procedure earlier this month.
Zookeepers artificially inseminated Lin Hui earlier this
month after Chuang Chuang, her male partner, failed to perform despite
videos of "panda porn" aimed at teaching him how to impregnate
With high hopes, the experts will perform an ultrasound
test in the next four months to determine if she is pregnant.
Zookeepers are taking special care of Lin Hui who is kept
in separate enclosures as experts are afraid that Chuang Chuang’s
heavy-handed playing could affect Lin Hui’s chances for a successful
Ever since the pair was sent from China to Chiang Mai
four years ago, Chuang Chuang’s sex life has become a matter of public
Zookeepers have put him on a special diet to avoid crushing his partner
and have made him watch other pandas mating on video to get him in the mood.
Censors go after
“Syndromes and a Century”
The film "Syndromes and a Century" should have
begun playing at theatres in Chiang Mai last week. It is directed by a
leading Thai national who has brought great acclaim to Thailand worldwide
through his award-winning films.
Nantarate Sawaddikul delights audiences in her portrayal as Dr. Tei in
Syndromes and a Century.
The movie won’t be coming to a theatre nearby anytime
soon and a huge storm of controversy has erupted.
The Thai Censorship Board has said that four cuts had to
be made to allow it to be shown in Thailand: 1. A monk playing a guitar, 2.
A monk playing with a remote-controlled UFO toy, 3. A doctor drinking
alcohol 4. A doctor kissing his girlfriend so that a viewer can notice that
he is noticeably excited.
The director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, instead withdrew
it from release, saying he will only allow it to be shown uncut. He said:
"I, a filmmaker, treat my works as my own sons or my daughters. When I
conceived them, they have their own lives to live. I don’t mind if people
are fond of them, or despise them, as long as I created them with my best
intentions and efforts. If these offspring of mine cannot live in their own
country for whatever reasons, let them be free. Since there are other places
that warmly welcome them as who they are, there is no reason to mutilate
them from the fear of the system, or from greed. Otherwise there is no
reason for one to continue making art."
The Censorship Board was apparently so incensed at this
insubordination they refused to return the film to the director as he
requested, saying that they had to go ahead and make the cuts in the film
anyway, even if it was not to be shown in Thailand. One infuriated member of
the committee castigated the director: "No one has ever dared doing
something like that; even any blockbuster has never done something like
Some consider the censors’ actions as petty and
nonsensical. Thailand gained world notoriety when the censors cut the last
20 minutes of "The Da Vinci Code" at the behest of religious
pressure groups. Now it seems to have been the doctors, hospital
organizations and Buddhist groups that put up the hue and cry.
The film is one of several film projects initiated and
funded by the city of Vienna as part of the celebration marking the 250th
anniversary of Mozart’s birth. The film has won the following awards so
far: Best Film Award, 9th Deauville Asian Film Festival, France, 2007 Best
Editor Award, Asian Film Award, Hong Kong, 2007 Special Mention, Fribourg
International Film Festival, Switzerland, 2007 and Honorable Mention,
Adelaide Film Festival, Australia, 2007
He’s dealing here with reminiscences, we’re told
(though not in the film itself), of the director’s parents, both of them
doctors; of their courtship; and of what it was like for him to grow up in a
hospital environment. Weerasethakul says that the first half, with its
warmer, gentler mood, is for his mother, and the second, where scenes are
repeated in brisker and cooler variations and the hospital is an antiseptic
urban one, is for his father.
Movie critic Stephanie Zacharek, at Salon.com writes,
"This is such a gentle, delicate picture — it’s based on Joe’s
parents’ recollections of their own early courtship — that at moments, I
felt as if it were slipping through my hands like water. But a full day
after seeing it, I’m finding that its rippling multiple storylines —
there’s a singing dentist who befriends a young monk, and a beautiful
young doctor who inches tentatively toward love — are still reshaping
themselves in my mind. "Syndromes and a Century" is beguiling and
confounding, and I hope to see it again soon: When I do, I suspect I’ll
understand it even less and yet love it more. That’s the difference
between a movie with a mystery in its heart, and one whose mystery is a
gimmick you can take to market."
Apparently the government is embarrassed by Apichatpong
and his success throughout the world because he is gay and a maverick, and
does not make readily understandable films in the accepted mode. The Thai
establishment apparently ignores him, accord him no recognition and try to
discourage him in every way imaginable.
The ensuing public revolt and rebellion has led groups and individuals to
petition to the National Legislative Assembly to abolish this kind of film
censorship in Thailand.
Thai’s PTT wins bidding
for JET gas stations
The state-owned oil and gas conglomerate PTT Plc made the
top bid for Conoco-owned JET petrol stations with a value of about 7 billion
PTT won the bidding over key rivals including Shell
Corporation and Petronas of Malaysia.
With the apparent takeover of the JET gas stations
nationwide, PTT will expand its market share dramatically. At present, PTT
has a market share of around 34 per cent.
Chaiwat Churitthi, Senior Executive Vice President of PTT’s
Oil Business group said PTT was keen on securing the JET properties due to
their prime locations.
Conoco (Thailand), which operates JET petrol stations,
has been trying to sell off all of its 147 stations countrywide following an
overhaul of its organization.
The US-based Conoco entered into the gas and oil business in Thailand
over ten years ago and had invested over 3 billion baht during this period. (CMM
Sweet treats cool down
the animals at the zoo
enjoys a pink colored flavored ice cream to cool down during the hot
Chiang Mai Zoo’s officials have brought in ice cream
mixed with colorful sweet syrups to distribute to animals to bring them some
relieve during the hot weather.
The zoo officials have handed out the frozen sweets to
the bear cats, the Asiatic black bears, Malaysian bears, tigers, lions,
orangutans and monkeys.
The pandas were provided with healthier frozen carrots
which they seem to enjoy.
According to the staff the animals are enjoying the
special treats and seem to be more cheerful after eating their sweet snacks,
especially the orangutans.
Bright food coloring such as pink, green, red and orange
is used as this seems to make the icee’s more palatable. (CMM