HM the King’s 80th birthday celebrated throughout the country
By Jocelyn Gecker
The whole country celebrated HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 80th birthday on
December 5 with festivities, prayers and a nationwide effort to wear yellow
_ the color that symbolizes devotion to the world’s longest reigning
of thousands of people in yellow shirts, waving yellow flags packed the
streets around the Grand Palace in Bangkok where His Majesty made a rare
public appearance from the balcony of his ceremonial Throne Hall _ only the
sixth such appearance in his 61-year reign.
Dressed in a gold brocade robe, Bhumibol stepped onto the balcony and took a
seat in a golden throne as the crowd erupted in shouts of “Long Live the
People traveled from cities around Thailand, hoping to catch a glimpse of
the beloved monarch. Some camped out the night before along the path of his
“This is a once in a lifetime experience,” said Chai Kanmanit, a grocer who
traveled to Bangkok from the northern city of Chiang Mai. “I love the king.
I want to see the king.”
A woman in the crowd was ecstatic after seeing His Majesty’s cream-colored
Rolls Royce drive past.
“I think he was waving at us!” said the woman, Sutida Rungsawat. “It’s
amazing. I think I might have seen him smiling.”
Far from the center of celebrations, people everywhere donned yellow _ from
supermarket cashiers and morning joggers to business people.
HM King Bhumibol’s birthday is a national holiday in Thailand and has
increasingly become a day of nationwide tribute to the man who is the most
influential figure in modern Thai history. Many Thais have never known
another other sovereign.
Throughout his 61-year reign, the King is widely recognised as the heart and
soul of the nation. He has devoted his efforts tirelessly for the well-being
of his subjects. The King has continued to demonstrate his deep concern for
his kingdom and brought great improvement to the quality of life of the
people through his various royal projects.
Everywhere around the nation, people showed respect for the monarch by
saying prayers and performing merit-making ceremonies that typically involve
freeing captive animals, including birds, turtles and fish.
Fireworks lit the skies on Wednesday night in every city in Thailand as part
of weeklong celebrations.
Wiboon Sa-nguanphong governor of Chiang Mai
performs religious ceremonies
to pay homage to HM the King.
People of many nationalities performed cultural
shows on stage.
Thousands of people gathered to pledge their
allegiance and sing songs
of praise to HM the King and marveled at the brilliant fireworks.
|Chiang Mai pays homage to HM the King
In Chiang Mai, festivities were also held all
over the city.
Early in the day at the Chiang Mai University Conference Hall on
Ninmanhaemin Road, Wiboon Sa-nguanphong governor of Chiang Mai province
led more than 5000 people from both the public and private sector in a
ceremony to pay homage to HM the King.
The evening ceremonies were held at Hokham Luang, Suan Chalerm Phrakiat
Rachapruk (Royal Flora Park 2006) in Tambon Mae Hia, where, in a candle
lit ceremony thousands of people gathered to pledge their allegiance and
sing songs of praise to HM the King and marveled at the brilliant
fireworks, which lasted more than 45 minutes. (CMM)
Sweet, Sweet Charities
Underprivileged children benefit from FERC’s charity event
Julie Annellie Manus and Louis enjoying the
John, Lois, Peter and Judy enjoying their just
Volunteers from the he Chiang Mai Vocational
College served as waiters
and helpers for the evening.
Tangerine Blue performing with Aard and Mark
The FERC Board. (Back row l-r) Frank, Mar, Scott
(Front l-r) Donna, Celeste, Lina and Becky
Becky, June, Lina, Donna and Celeste pose in
front of Gingerbread house,
which was auctioned at the end of the evening.
Aim with artist Lek and singer Aard.
Terry, Donna, Debbie, Sasitorn, Tom and Mark
seem quite content having sampled the pastry chef’s desert creations.
Amy, Annie Oakley, Graziele, John, Jon, Philip
and Martin party for a good cause.
The five chef’s of Chiang Mai (l-r) Wason (D2)
Keaikkisak (Sofitel), Pom (The House), Wanlop (4 Seasons) and Sarnkapong
Ah, Sweet Charities! The Foundation for the Education of Rural Children
(FERC) recently hosted an elegant and unusual evening – Sweet Charities - in
the garden of the Hinlay Curry Restaurant, known locally as the Old Japanese
Consulate. To make the evening especially sweet, chefs from local five star
hotels and restaurants manned work stations displaying – and serving - their
favorite desserts. Brownies, cheese cake, flourless chocolate cake topped
with crème anglaise, rich milk cassoulette with bourbon, and a very special
chocolate fudge helped to satisfy the sweetest of sweet teeth.
Guests were greeted by board members as they entered the gates and were
served a glass of sparkling wine after being shown into the beautifully lit
garden. Music by Tangerine Blue set the stage for a lovely evening under the
palm trees and featured a variety of favorite show tunes. Mild winter
breezes kept everything cool, including the inviting desserts. Abstract
artist Chang Lek displayed and sold small landscape abstracts, described by
artist Galen Garwood as “little visual desserts”. A portion from the sale of
each painting was donated to FERC.
Rebecca Lomax, FERC board member, welcomed the guests and described the FERC
scholarship programs and the children who have received assistance through
the years. She stated that FERC scholarships had been awarded to children in
the mountains as well as to rural children attending school in Chiang Mai,
to students who were at all levels of their educations from pre-school to
college, and to disabled students as well as those without disabilities. She
described some of the reasons that students needed scholarships, and the
risks posed to children by not having an education.
She then recognized the guest chefs and their sponsoring hotels and
restaurants, The Chedi, D2, Four Seasons, Sofitel Chiang Mai and The House,
as well as Siamese Traders and Nacha Coffee for their donations of teas and
coffee, and the Hinlay Curry Restaurant. Then she introduced Chang Lek and
Galen Garwood, guest artists, and directed guests to the table displaying
Chang Lek’s art work. The performing musical group Tangerine Blue and its
members, John Smith, Mark Gerard, Ong-Ard Kanchaisak and Jaruwat Kitisith
were introduced. Each group was thanked for its charitable contributions to
the welfare of children in Thailand, and for their work in making Sweet
Charities a success.
Other board members including Chairman Marc Dumur, Luxami Dumur, Scott
Jones, Donna Dauenhauer, Frank Weicks, Lance Lewis and Carolina Thompson
were also recognized and thanked. Dr. Lomax then invited guests to enjoy
watching the chefs at their work stations and to indulge in their sweet
desserts with the following comment, “It has been said that the world’s
greatest tragedies were written by Sophocles and Shakespeare. Obviously
neither knew about chocolate. We want no tragedies conceived here tonight,
so please join us in indulging ourselves at the dessert tables.”
June Unland donated a gingerbread house for the event, which was assembled
by Chef Wanlop of the Four Seasons Resort and auctioned to the highest
bidder later in the evening. John Richard, the winning bidder, generously
donated this charming bit of edible art to the children of the Viengping
Children’s Home. The door prize was drawn by FERC volunteer and webmaster
Mike McCune from business cards deposited in a beautiful large bowl on
entering the venue. A voucher for an overnight stay at the Shangri La
Bangkok was awarded to the lucky winner, Saisitorn Thamthai.
Tangerine Blue provided music for the entire event. Guests enjoyed the
romantic “Misty” and “Love Me or Leave Me” along with the provocative and
humorous “Have You Met Miss Jones?” and melancholic “Autumn Leaves”. The
group then turned up the volume a bit for a lively banjo set that had the
guests tapping their feet and applauding loudly. “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
and “Wilkommen” were favorites, but “Lambeth Walk” stopped the show. The
group ended with Louis Armstrong’s famous hit, “What a Wonderful World”,
perhaps a fitting description of the lovely evening.
Proceeds from the event benefited the organization’s scholarship fund.
“A Gap in Generations” is a great success!
A truly Intercultural Stage Performance
It was cold – probably the coldest week Chiang Mai has known for a
long while, and this was an outdoor performance , as is traditional with
Italian Commedia dell’ Arte plays. However, those many who braved the
weather were in for a treat. The audience, old and young, both Thai and
foreigners, found themselves laughing throughout the entire performance. We
knew that some of the cast were expats or local people, and some
professionals, but on the night it was very hard to tell the difference
between experience and total enthusiasm resulting in excellence. The story,
a traditional late 16th century Commedia dell’Arte tale, based on a group of
travelling players and an improvisational “play within a play”, featured the
classic Commedia repertoire of love, old age, jealousy, etc, with characters
identified by their costumes, masks and props. The established characters
included the lovers (innamorati), the elders (vecchi), and the Zanni (the
eccentric servants) who are persuaded to help the innamorati to obtain their
dream of marriage and forgiveness all round!
“A Gap in Generations”, written by Jerry Blunt, and directed by Sherie
Guillet, had already been very successfully performed in Washington DC. The
Washington Post critic wrote “Life, vital and original, came to Ford’s
Theatre, where we discovered a
square in old Bologna, peopled by types that could have strayed in from “The
Merchant of Venice” or “Romeo and Juliet.” The play is presented in true
Commedia dell’Arte style, including the costumes and masks, and is, as the
Washington Post critic stated and the Chiang Mai audience soon realised,
“packed with belly laughs”!
The opening night was a sell-out – in an interview with the Mail’s reporter,
Sherie, who produced and directed the show, told us that she had chosen that
particular play because she had felt that the style of comedy would
translate very well into Thai terms, an important consideration given the
location and the expected audience. 22 members of the company came from “out
of town”, and 10 were local. Sherie’s biggest headache whilst putting the
show together was the international co-ordination aspect of the production.
The venue was chosen not only for its traditional open air location and for
its great vibes, but also because of its similarity to an Elizabethan stage.
Sherie will be in Chiang Mai until at least March, but hopefully for longer,
and would love to organise another production here. If you are interested,
please email her on