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August 7, - August 13, 2007



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FEATURES
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Long Live Her Majesty Queen Sirikit

Local coffee grower a winner at International Cupping competition

A brief history about the origins of coffee

 

Long Live Her Majesty Queen Sirikit

Caring Mother of the Thai Nation

By Peter Cummins
Chiangmai Mail Special Correspondent
Photos courtesy Bureau of the Royal Household

The management and staff of the Chiangmai Mail, join the Thai people and the many others from around the world, to present our loyalty and devotion to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and best wishes for a most Happy Birthday and a long life on the occasion of her 75th birthday, 12 August 2002.
HM Queen Sirikit was officially instated as Queen Somdej Phranang Chao by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, when he acceded to the Thai Throne as the Ninth Monarch of the Rama Dynasty, on the fifth of May, 1950. Her Majesty is known through this half century as the “Mother of all the Thais”.
HM Queen Sirikit’s birthday has always been celebrated as Mother’s Day in Thailand, which is appropriate for HM the Queen who is regarded by each and every Thai as the “Loving Mother of the Thai Nation”.
In fact, to further this analogy a little, when Their Majesties visited the United States in 1960, one of HM the Queen’s enduring - and perhaps prophetic remarks vis--vis her future role as Thailand’s Queen - was, “I love being a Mother”.
Early in their reign, when visiting remote areas, the Royal Couple were disturbed by the plight of the rural people, the lack of educational and medical facilities and, not the least, poor nutrition which aggravated all other problems. HM the King determined to take positive action to help the farmers, while Her Majesty the Queen focused on “the home”, seeking ways to enable the women-folk to earn cash to help alleviate the grinding and debilitating poverty.
Sirikit:
Early Lean Years
B
orn on August, 12, 1932, daughter of the then Thai Ambassador to France, Mom Chao Nakhatmongol and his consort Mom Luang Bua Sanitwongse, Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kittiyakara was destiny’s child.

12 June 2006 Their Majesties the King and Queen receiving Monarchs and Members of Royal Families who came to attend the Sixtieth Anniversary Celebrations of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Dusit Palace.

Following the end of WW II in 1945, the young Sirikit followed her father’s ambassadorial posting first to the Court of St. James and then Paris. The beautiful Sirikit, whose name means “beauty and honour”, continued her education, studying language and music, aspiring to become a concert pianist.
But, lest one think that the future Queen was ‘pampered’ as a child, although the daughter of an upper-class family, she often walked to school or rode the tram and, with the advent of World War II, the young girl’s movements and freedoms were quite restricted.
In 1948, Sirikit met her husband-to-be and the future King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, in Paris, while both were studying in Europe; Bhumibol in Lausanne and Sirikit in Paris.
On July 19, 1949, the young couple announced their engagement at the Windsor Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland and returned to Thailand for their marriage on 28 April 1950. The new King and Queen of Thailand were married by HM Queen Sawang Vadhana, the paternal grand-mother of His Majesty at the Sra Pathum Palace in Bangkok, on 28 April, 1950.
Thus, Their Majesties have just celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary, and the nation enjoys Her Majesty’s 75th birthday, knowing that in her tiny hands, all those years ago, Sirikit was destined to up-raise the Thai people and improve life for each and every one of the some 60 million people who would become her subjects.

10 December 2005, Her Majesty the Queen conversing with the local populace during a visit to Tha Rae Village, Akat Amnuai District, Sakon Nakhon Province.

The ‘SUPPORT’ Foundation
Basically coinciding with the Queen’s 75th birthday, this week, is the 31st anniversary of the founding, on 21 July 1976, of the Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques, popularly known by the acronym SUPPORT. The foundation was established to place, on a more formal basis, the activities started by the Queen, using her own funds, to establish cottage industries for village and farm women, “without the necessity of leaving home.”
Her Majesty supplied weaving looms and materials to make fabrics, clothing and soft goods, as well as providing equipment to produce other marketable items. Having lived in Europe for many years, HM the Queen was conversant with the enormous diversity of European arts and culture and thus recognized the variety of crafts and styles distinctive to different regions of Thailand: hand-woven fabrics, basket-ware and rattan products, utensils and a myriad other artefacts.
Her Majesty is justifiably famous for her clear perception and this rose to remarkable heights with her outstanding vision for making SUPPORT into a viable proposition. She brought back from retirement former court artisans to teach presumably lost crafts to a ‘new generation’ - even grandmothers.
HM the Queen’s advice to the ‘retirees’ was that, “Before they urge the villagers to make anything, they must be certain that the end-product is marketable - and not made for charity alone which does not provide a real livelihood. SUPPORT is designed to make the villagers self-reliant,” the Queen emphasized.
Particular stress was placed upon bringing physically-handicapped people to work at SUPPORT projects, raising their confidence and creating satisfaction for each person who was, thus, achieving a level of self-reliance by being able to earn an income - and not having to rely on charity or handouts to survive.
Mudmee Silk is but one of HM the Queen’s legacies to the Foundation. It was Her Majesty who ‘resurrected’ this almost-forgotten weaving craft, indigenous to the northeast. Mudmee, meaning literally ‘tied threads’, is an intricate ‘tie and die’ process which produces brilliant colours, each piece being unique and the pattern is the individual imagination of the weaver - there are no blueprints to follow.
Due to Her Majesty’s guidance, as well as to her wearing of mudmee at official functions in Thailand and abroad, mudmee silk is universally known as a distinctive, exotic and outstandingly beautiful Thai artefact.
In July 2004, HM the Queen presided over the opening of the Fourth Treasures of the Kingdom, hosted by the Support Foundation and, two years ago, sponsored by the Royal Initiated Projects, HM the Queen opened the new Breast Cancer Medical Centre at the Thai Red Cross’ Chulalongkorn Hospital.
Conservation Projects Help
the People
A
lthough probably best known for the SUPPORT Foundation, HM the Queen’s great determination to raise the living standards and improve the quality of life for the Thai people has led to many other projects beneficial to the people and nature equally. For example, there are the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, The Forest Loves Water and The Little House in the Big Forest Projects.

23 February 2006 Her Majesty the Queen and Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain observing handicraft products made by students of the SUPPORT Foundation at Bang Pa-in Palace, Bang Pa-in District, Phara Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province

During her ongoing visits - often with HM the King and other members of the Royal Family - to the remotest and poorest areas of the country, Her Majesty soon realized that it was preservation and wise use of the natural resources and environmental protection which were the imperative components in striking a balance between the welfare of human settlements and nature.
HM the Queen was most disturbed by the deterioration of these vital elements, particularly the water resources, which she observed on each visit were either becoming depleted or badly degraded. The end result was a further blow to the well-being and improved way of life for even her least subjects.

Her Majesty encouraged the people, “To bond together in order to protect the forests which are sources of the watershed and natural food,” and at the same time, “exhorted the people to use natural resources properly and efficiently, to achieve sustainable benefits.” She also urged the people to become self-reliant and, “To grow food and garden crops, to undertake a comprehensive cultivation of herbal plants and raise animals as a food source.”
One outcome of this loving care for even the least of her subjects has been the establishment in 1996 of the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, located at the Mae Rim District in Chiang Mai Province.
The Garden was opened to serve as a Thai plant conservation centre where botanical research and study is undertaken to maintain the vast biodiversity of Thai flora. This includes collection and propagation of indigenous, rare and endangered species of flora. Thai orchids, herbal plants and a vast array of native woods are conserved here, as part of HM the Queen’s legacy to present and future generations.

14 October 2005 Her Majesty the Queen conversing with local monks and lmams who were grateful for Her Majesty’s concern over the situation in the three southern provinces of Thailand, during a visit to the Model Farm Project, Khok Rai Yai Village, Su-ngai Padi district, Narathiwat Province.

In 1997 and 1998, HM the Queen initiated a project to establish three demonstration farms, two of which are in Chiang Mai province at Baan Khun Tae, Moo 5, Chom Thong District and at Baan Mae Tungting, Moo 5 Samoeng District. The third is located in Chiang Rai province, at Baan Rom Fah Thong, Moo 9, Viang Kaen District.
HM the Queen regularly visits these remote areas to see, at first-hand, how the quality of life is improving for the farmers who now have secure occupations and are husbanding different types of animals for food. Equally importantly, agricultural workers are now protecting the forest, wildlife and the watershed - in fact, the environment as a whole - from any further degradation.
In Ubon Ratchathani, close by the border of Laos, lies a natural forest called Dong Na Tham, a huge area covering some 50,000 rai (approx. 80 m sq. metres). The hardships and poverty of the people in the surrounding villages had caused the villagers to encroach on the natural reserve, with disastrous results to the environment and ecology.
Based on His Majesty the King’s philosophy of a “sufficiency economy”, HM the Queen initiated a number of alternatives to the near-destitute workers on the land, with a most positive change, both to the people’s lives and the surrounding environment.
HM the Queen recently pointed out that “the forest is a water resource for the people. Without forests, or if we keep destroying the trees, though we gain more land, we will lose all water supplies and the land ... will become a desert. Forests should exist to preserve life and water and maintain the rainfall which helps us to a better living,” HM the Queen added.
Nothing, within the context of Their Majesties’ concern for the sustainable use of natural resources, be it turtle conservation or the plight of elephants facing extinction, escapes HM the Queen’s attention and follow-up action.
The pachyderm situation has, just recently, become a rather moot subject, following the proposed assignation of elephants to the Melbourne and Taronga Park (Sydney) Zoos.
Counter to this, the ‘Elephant Re-introduction Scheme,’ proposed by Her Majesty and supported by the World Wildlife Fund, has witnessed a number of elephants being returned to the forest so, as Her Majesty said in 1997, “they can live out their lives in their natural habitat - the forest”.
In the case of the turtles, noting that they were becoming an endangered species, mainly due to the stealing of turtle eggs, in 1979, HM the Queen initiated a Marine Turtle Conservation Project, located off Rayong, in the Gulf of Thailand.
As the whole Thai nation - and much of the rest of the world - was aware last year during the splendid international celebrations honouring the 60th anniversary of HM the King’s accession to the Thai throne, there has always been a strong bond between the Japanese and Thai Royal households.
Certainly, an earlier manifestation of this came in November 2004, when HM the Queen was cited during a World Conservation Congress, “For her continuing efforts in protecting and re-vitalizing the forests, wildlife and the environment.”
The award, the first ever made since the Congress was founded in 1948, was a stunning gold medal, engraved with the visage of HM the Queen while releasing turtles back into the waterways. Her Imperial Highness, Japan’s Princess Takamado was selected to make the presentation at the Congress.
Thai People
Celebrate HM’S Successive Birthdays
T
he Thai people have been continually celebrating the birthday of the Beloved Queen. For example, one of the earlier events was five years ago, shortly after Her Majesty’s 70th birthday, when a splendid gala, featuring a Thai silk fashion show - appropriately called “Queen of Silk” - was held in Her Majesty’s honour at Government House.

Her Majesty Queen and Russian President Vladimir Putin examine an item from a folk arts exhibition of Queen Sirikit’s “Support” Foundation in the Kremlin in Moscow, Thursday, July 5, 2007. (AP Photo)

The highlight of the spectacular evening was the conferring upon HM the Queen, the Louis Pasteur Award, by the International Sericultural Commission and the Brussels Eureka 2001, a singular honour presented by the National Research Council of Thailand.
Concomitantly, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives commissioned a special musical tribute called “Mai Rak” (Love of Silk), “In appreciation of Her Majesty’s role and activities in Thai silk and developing it to a world standard over the past five decades.”
These accolades coincided with the staging of the 19th Congress of the International Sericultural Commission - the first time Thailand has ever had the occasion to host this prestigious event. Thus it was a fitting tribute to Her Majesty, witnessed by some 500 sericulture experts from more than 23 countries who attended the Congress.
There has been an almost endless list of tributes to Her Majesty, over the past few years, ranging from a nation-wide planting of one million trees, to concerts, fashion parades, and even a world record sky-diving performance.
There is a Queen’s cook-book, the opening of a “Butterfly Garden” and, certainly not the least, two highly-prestigious awards from the United States acknowledging HM the Queen’s role in preserving Thai crafts and her humanitarian assistance to the Thai people, refugees and wildlife.
It is difficult to single out specific honours accorded HM the Queen recently, but rather, it is better to list some of them, in random order:
The 2004 Aid to Artisans Award: for the Preservation of Thai crafts, presented at a Gala Dinner in New York on 2 February, 2004;
The Marshall Legacy Institute’s Annual International Award 2003, for HM the Queen’s work in helping improve the lives of people and protecting wildlife.
Upon the presentation of this award in Washington, D.C., on February 4, 2004, the director of the institute, which is dedicated to the removal of landmines, pointed out that “Her Majesty had played an important role in promoting the welfare of Thais, with special emphasis on the poor and refugees.”
At the end of 2003, Her Majesty gave permission to print 500 copies of her recipes in a cookbook entitled “Kin Tam Mae” (“Eating as Her Majesty Does”) which stresses the benefits of good food that she prepares for her own family.
The Public Health Ministry said that “the book was a demonstration of Her Majesty’s kindness and it underscored the Public Health Ministry’s declaration of 2004 as ‘The Year for Safe Food’.”
A world record of 672 skydivers from 42 countries, early in 2005, leaped from six C-130 military transport planes, unfurling on their descent a gigantic Thai flag to honour HM the Queen.
HM the Queen’s Gallery, opened on Rajadamnoern Klang avenue, opposite the Golden Temple in honour of Her Majesty’s 71st birthday in 2003, is Bangkok’s newest art center and, as well as a collection of portraits, of HM the Queen painted by HM the King, the art and museum pieces on display have been contributed by galleries and private collectors world-wide.
There have been cultural performances, soloists and many musical tributes to HM the Queen, herself a skilled classic pianist.
Deep concern
for the south
H
er Majesty has been very concerned by the troubles and violence which beset the southern provinces, continuing until now, with killing and mayhem in the mainly-Muslim southern provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani.
In a gesture of heartfelt sympathy for the plight of victims of extremism, in 2005 the Queen purchased 600 rai of land to allow homes to be built for widows and bereaved families of those killed in the violence.
Her Majesty’s concern is, indeed, so profound that, disregarding any idea of personal safety, she extended her usual visit to this troubled area, to gain a better insight into ways and means of alleviating the bloodshed and violence.
Most recently, HM the Queen has been encouraging Buddhist monks to return to the south, to help bring peace to this troubled region. In July 2007, HM the Queen introduced a plan to reopen abandoned Buddhist monasteries and temples that had been abandoned because Islamic separatists had targeted them as symbols of Thailand’s Buddhist majority in the Kingdom’s southern provinces. She called on Buddhist monks to go south and live in the empty monasteries during the three three-month Buddhist Lent. As many as 350 monks have heeded the call.
HM the Queen visits Russia
Her Majesty Queen Sirikit recently took a state visit to the Russian Federation at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej graciously designated Her Majesty the Queen as His representative, who arrived in Moscow on July 2, toured several cities, and returned to Thailand on July 11. Her Majesty the Queen’s visit coincided with the celebration of the 110th anniversary of Thai-Russian diplomatic relations when King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) visited Russia in 1897.
President Putin hosted a state banquet at the Kremlin, where Thai handicrafts from the Foundation for the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen were displayed to promote Thai culture and arts.
Her Majesty the Queen traveled to St. Petersburg to see Russian architecture and visited historical places related to Thai-Russian relations including Peterhof Palace, the residence of King Rama V when he visited Russia in 1897.
During her visit to St. Petersburg, on July 9, the St. Petersburg State University presented an Honorary Doctorate Degree in the field of Eastern Languages and Cultures to Her Majesty the Queen.
Conclusion
It was at the presentation of the “Turtles Medalion” in November 2004, that Her Majesty addressed her lasting legacy to her subjects and future generations: “My dream is that one day, ordinary people everywhere will have a greater desire to protect their children’s future livelihood by not only refraining from harming the environment themselves, but also by helping the authorities to prevent others from doing so.”
The foregoing reports could be summarized in Her Majesty’s own words, emphasizing her humanity, goodwill and, not the least, her humour. “Has HM the King encouraged you to concentrate on work for the well-being of the people?” HM the Queen was once asked in an interview. “He did not encourage me at all... he ordered me to,” HM the Queen replied. “I will look after the land and the farmers and you must look after their families,” HM the King said.
Happy 75th Birthday Your Majesty from all of us here at Chiangmai Mail.

 

Local coffee grower a winner at International Cupping competition

Becky Lomax
When coffee aficionados from all over the world recently gathered at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s conference in Long Beach, California, USA, who could have predicted that a fine coffee grown in Chiang Mai province would be awarded the honor of Best in Asia, 2007?

Over 30 cupping experts judged the competition at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s conference in Long Beach, California.
Nacha Coffee, the brand name of the Pongcharoenkul family’s estate grown Arabica coffee and a newcomer to cupping competition, surprised everyone when it surpassed 104 long-standing names from other parts of Asia, including Java and Sumatra, and ranked alongside the standard-bearers from other regions, Kona from Hawaii and Jamaican Blue Mountain. Over 30 cupping experts judged the competition. The Specialty Coffee Association of America is the trade association for the specialty coffee industry, sometimes called “gourmet” or “premium” coffee. The association sets the industry’s standards for growing, roasting and brewing fine coffee.
Preecha Pongcharoenkul returned home to Thailand after a year of study at Harvard and completion of an MPA at the Kennedy School for Government, and began to search for the perfect location for a future retirement home. He didn’t know as he wandered around the mountain property that he had found the perfect home for a coffee estate, a preserved evergreen rain forest. Pheasant, peacocks, and rare long horn stag beetles make their home there and live in harmony with the villagers. The land had been used to grow local tea for hundreds of years, and the villagers protected it – and their traditional miang tea – from fires. The miang needed neither chemical pesticides nor fertilizers, so those residues were not in the soil. Shade was abundant and the temperature cool. The first coffee beans were grown and roasted and happily served almost as a hobby.
Then a prestigious guest, a true coffee expert, dined with the family at The Fondue House, and his praise for the “hobby” coffee inspired Preecha to busy himself into research and the coffee world and turn his hobby into a competitive business. Today, sons Chanon and Chana share the presidency of this growing company.
Nacha Coffee is shade grown at an altitude if 4,000 feet. Over a dozen experienced farmers and their families nurture the plants, monitor the beans until they are perfect for picking, pick and sort them, separate the beans from the cherries. Then the beans are naturally sun-dried, sorted for size and hand-graded. Roasting is critical to the process, and is accomplished in small batches by a local expert. The company is committed to the villagers who work with them to produce their fine coffee, providing homes, food and schools for their children and improving the infrastructure on the mountain. And they are giving back to the land, working closely with the Earthsafe Foundation in Thailand to educate the villagers on better ecological practices such as recycling the coffee byproducts as organic fertilizer.

Chanon and Chana of Nacha coffee.

The coffee beans are naturally sun-dried and sorted for size and hand-graded.

Nacha Coffee is shade grown at an altitude if 4,000 feet in Doi Saket.


A brief history about the origins of coffee

The story of how coffee growing and drinking spread around the world is one of the greatest and most romantic in history. It starts in the Horn of Africa, in Ethiopia, where the coffee tree probably originated in the province of Kaffa. There are various fanciful but unlikely stories surrounding the discovery of the properties of roasted coffee beans. One story has it that an Ethiopian goatherd was amazed at the lively behavior of his goats after chewing red coffee berries. What we know with more certainty is that the succulent outer cherry flesh was eaten by slaves taken from present day Sudan into Yemen and Arabia, through the great port of its day, Mocha, now synonymous with coffee. Coffee was certainly being cultivated in Yemen by the 15th century and probably much earlier than that.
Mocha was also the main port for the one sea route to Mecca, and was the busiest place in the world at the time. But the Arabs had a strict policy not to export any fertile beans, so that coffee could not be cultivated anywhere else. The coffee bean is the seed of the coffee tree, but when stripped of its outer layers it becomes infertile. The race to make off with some live coffee trees or beans was eventually won by the Dutch in 1616, who brought some back to Holland where they were grown in greenhouses.
Initially, the authorities in Yemen actively encouraged coffee drinking as it was considered preferable to the extreme side effects of Kat, a shrub whose buds and leaves were chewed as a stimulant. The first coffeehouses were opened in Mecca and were called ‘kaveh kanes’. They quickly spread throughout the Arab world and became successful places where chess was played, gossip was exchanged, and singing, dancing and music were enjoyed. They were luxuriously decorated and each had an individual character. Nothing quite like the coffeehouse had existed before: a place where society and business could be conducted in comfortable surroundings and where anyone could go, for the price of coffee.
The Arabian coffeehouses soon became centers of political activity and were suppressed. Coffee and coffeehouses were subsequently banned several times over the next few decades, but they kept reappearing. Eventually a solution was found when coffeehouses and coffee were taxed.
The Dutch were also growing coffee at Malabar in India, and in 1699 took some to Batavia in Java, in what is now Indonesia. Within a few years the Dutch colonies had become the main suppliers of coffee to Europe. Today Indonesia is the fourth largest exporter of coffee in the world.
Venetian traders first brought coffee to Europe in 1615. This was a period when the two other great hot beverages also appeared in Europe. Hot chocolate was the first, brought by the Spanish from the Americas to Spain in 1528; and tea, which was first sold in Europe in 1610.
At first coffee was mainly sold by lemonade vendors and was believed to have medicinal qualities. The first European coffeehouse opened in Venice in 1683, with the most famous, Caffe Florian in Piazza San Marco, opening in 1720. It is still open for business today.
The first reference to coffee being drunk in North America is from 1668 and, soon after, coffee houses were established in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and other towns. The Boston Tea Party Of 1773 was planned in a coffee house, the Green Dragon. Both the New York Stock Exchange and the Bank of New York started in coffeehouses, in what is today the financial district known as Wall Street.
It was in the 1720s that coffee first came to be cultivated in the Americas. A coffee tree was re-planted at Preebear, where it was surrounded by a thorn hedge and watched over by slaves. It grew, and multiplied, and by 1726 the first harvest was ready. It is recorded that by 1777, there were between 18 and 19 million coffee trees on Martinique, and the model for a new cash crop that could be grown in the New World was in place.
But it was the Dutch who first started the spread of the coffee plant in Central and South America, where today it reigns supreme as the main continental cash crop. In 1730 the British introduced coffee to Jamaica, where today the most famous and expensive coffee in the world is grown in the Blue Mountains. By 1825 coffee was first planted in Hawaii which produces the only US coffee, and one of the finest.
The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary greatly, depending on its origin or the composition of the blend, the method of brewing and the strength of the brew. Instant, or soluble, coffee generally contains less caffeine than roast and ground coffee, but may be consumed in greater volume. Robusta coffee has about twice as much caffeine as arabicas. A ‘cup’ is usually understood to contain 150 ml or 5 oz but an espresso may be as small as 40 ml.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives the following ranges for caffeine contents:
(milligrams per 5 oz cup) Roast and ground drip method averages about 115mg; percolator, 80mg and instant coffee, 65mg. Courtesy of the International Coffee Organization.



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