The Chiang Mai
ladies lunch bunch
l/r Sally, Judy, Carley,
Lucy, Janet, Anjali, Rose, Angie, Chloe and Denise gathered for their ex-pat
Ladies lunch bunch at the Empress Hotel for the buffet meal. Any ladies
wishing to join their next outing should email Judy at
Belgian band “Belch” in concert
with hill tribe students of Chiang Rai
Four musicians of the Belgian band “Belch” are in Thailand to prepare an
unusual concert with hill tribe’s students.
Mathieu De Wit, Jonathan Taylor, Herve Gosselin and Damien Campion, the
four musicians of Belgian band “Belch”. Front: Some of the students of
Suksasongkroh Maechan school who take part in this multi-ethnic concert.
“Celebration” is a multi-ethnic project aimed at bringing two cultures
together in a creative musical and human exchange.
Based for two months at Insii Thai House, Maechan, the musicians are
rehearsing with 40 disadvantaged students of the Suksasongkroh School.
They aim at combining their skills and musical knowledge with local
instruments, sounds and dances found in the Thai and Hill Tribe
The dedication of the European musicians in the preparation of this
concert will make the dream of the students come true.
On October 24th they will travel to Bangkok to perform at the Sala
Chalermkrung Royal Theater.
The project is initiated by the Rotary clubs of Maechan (Chiangrai) and
Bangkorlaem (Bangkok) and is supported by Padaeng Industry, which
offered to cover the costs of transport of the whole ensemble to
The event, enhanced by the presence of the Belgian ambassador in
Thailand, H.E. Mr. Jan Matthysen, will be an occasion to commemorate the
friendship between His Majesty the King and former King Baudouin of
Belgium with a photo exhibition.
But most of all, it will give the opportunity to the hill tribes
students to be part of this year of celebration on the occasion of the
80th birthday of His Majesty the King.
On the net: www.insiithai house.com
Those lovable, levitating lissome lizards
David Harris Engel
Suddenly it’s dark. No electricity. The screen of my computer is totally
black. I go downstairs to take a look at the fuse box. The switches are
properly set. In haste the electrician comes only to confirm my own
finding. But when he unscrews the cover little white pearls tumble
out—enough for a necklace. They are eggs deposited there by tock’ays
(also spelled tokay) so-named here because of the male’s loud,
irritating guttural call, tuc-keh, repeated several times. (These
reptiles resemble the African margouillats.) It’s almost a shame to
prevent their hatching, particularly since tock’ays are not the single
source of the recurring racket, those exploding booms coming from the
direction of the nearby Moslem quarter. Bombs? Firecrackers? No, no!
Rather it’s simply the startling reports discharged sporadically from
the electric transformer on the light pole outside on the street.
tock’ay or tokay was photographed in Vang Vieng, Laos. Richard Ling/GFDL
But, in contrast, consider the almost silent gecko, a slighter member of
the tock’ay family. Those little crocs, like the tock’ays, are equipped
with highly developed specialized digital pads under their fingers and
toes that allow them to move up and down on smooth vertical surfaces as
well as on ceilings. The first time I saw those petite crocodiles
scaling the walls of my bedroom I felt anxiety confronted by their
intrusion. It was 20 years ago in Cholon in a room with bilious yellow
walls. At that time there was no air conditioning. You had to be content
with a fan that creaked and wheezed overhead. And since you slept nude
in that clamminess, the presence of geckos added to the feeling of both
exposure and exoticism. Reassured they were not poisonous, I tried hard
to fall asleep, but was gripped all the while with the fear they would
drop on my bed and even on my head. Sleep hardly came for I easily
imagined them running over my mouth, and wriggling their nervous tails
on my lips. . . You’ve got to see one stealthily approach its prey and
abruptly protrude a darting tongue that is as long as its head and just
as precise as a 22 caliber rifle. . . I often think of that poor bedroom
in Cholon overwhelmed by the distinctive cacophony of Asian cities with
the smells from noodle stalls lined up outside on the sidewalk. I was
happy in that ambience as I was at another time in that other little
bedroom in Siem Réap whose window shutters opened up onto a show of
Indian dances. Was I dreaming? My apsaras moved as if on a movie screen.
Comparing the tock’ay with the gecko: the house gecko measures, at most,
12 centimeters; whereas the tock’ay is a veritable monster, as long as a
forearm. He’s beautiful like a Cartier jewel thanks to an iridescent
skin in colors of blue, rose and green. His small unadorned cousin, the
gecko, lives on flies and mosquitoes, while the tock’ay prefers more
substantial nourishment like large beetles, mice and baby rats. Every
morning I was awakened by one of them under my windows. He played the
role of the village rooster, repeating his guttural call over and over
again like a regular pendulum. You must count the number of calls, for
according to the prevailing belief, the number of calls advises you
whether to stay home or to walk out of the house that day. Thus simply
by following the signals of a tock’ay, you are warned not to venture
onto the sidewalks where you likely will be waylaid by ambushes, such as
posts, poles, tree trunks, and parked motorbikes to collide with, and
gaps in the pavement that turn the ankles, or worse. So the tock’ay
serves as our geese guarding the capitol.
I had my first direct encounter with a tock’ay when I lifted up a floor
board in my interim home, a palace I had rented from a Thai prince,
where I had planned to stage shows of traditional dance. That tock’ay
was lodged in a narrow crevice. How was he able to flatten himself like
a leaf to fit into that tight space? Earlier, I had found a large wooden
pan, the kind used by prospectors panning for gold in gravelly
streambeds, and I had hung it against the wall of my terrace. It did not
take long, of course, for a tock’ay to select it as his preferred home.
Every morning at five o’clock he decided to wake me up with remarkably
thunderous cries reverberating in the pan that acted as an echo chamber.
At first, typically Thai, I chose to accept that annoyance. (Once
accepted, the little annoyances of life become less vexing.)
But one morning I cracked, conceded defeat, and sent the beast to find a
home elsewhere. And I did not put back that cursed pan.
As a final point consider the bizarre story of Yuri who kept the country
in suspense for days. Yuri was a monitor lizard, a theoretically
protected species that in reality is headed for extinction. This
particular one, however, realized his special destiny on the day that
Chamlong Taengniam found it during the funeral ceremony for her deceased
son. It was lurking behind the photo of the dead boy. Right away she
concluded that the spirit of the child was surviving in the body of the
lizard. At that juncture a mystifying madness overcame the mourners who
decided to stroke the body of the lizard in the hope, somehow, of
finding out winning lottery numbers. Gorged with the favorite foods of
the dead son, stroked and re-stroked, the poor lizard was approaching
his end when officials of the Forestry Department, distressed by the
lizard’s pernicious treatment, demanded his repatriation to the wild.
What’s surprising is the excessive official zeal over the fate of a
lizard in a country where very little is done for poor humans. In the
end it was decided to continue with the interrupted funeral rites
freeing the soul of the departed child, and that afterwards the lizard
would also be liberated to join his brothers in their woodland banquets
of beetles, flies, mosquitoes and other small beasts.