Samsara Foundation recognized for outstanding work
to help the underprivileged
Khunying Gasama Wotawan Na
Ayuttaya presnts the award
to Annelie Hendriks for her outstanding work.
Ratana Keunkaew and Annelie
Hendriks proudly hold on to their awards.
Well done ladies.
On 14 December 2007, Khunying Gasama Wotawan Na Ayuttaya,
Secretary General of the Office of Basic Education Commission, Ministry of
Education presented a Plaques of Honour to Annelie Hendriks and Ratana
Keunkaew of The Samsara Foundation. The awards are in recognition of the
work of Samsara Foundation in the 3 districts of Mae Lanoi, Mae Sariang and
In the last 4 years the foundation has built 31 dormitories, 17 canteens, 4
libraries, 14 toilet buildings and 8 water-collecting tanks. It has helped
65 poor mountain schools in the North of Thailand by providing furniture and
educational equipment including school books.
Without the assistance of the Foundation many children in these areas would
be unable to go to school, because the children live too far away and
especially during the wet season, daily travel is almost impossible.
Samsara is also raising funds for scholarships to enable hill tribe children
to get higher education.
Shangri-La Hotel brings a touch of
Lanna Renaissance into the heart of Chiang Mai
Hotel executives gather around as religious
ceremonies are held
to bless the opening of the Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai.
Chairman Pong Sarasin, watched by the owners
and management team
strikes the auspicious gong.
A ceremony was held on 22 December 2007 at Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai
to celebrate the soft opening of the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
group’s second hotel in Thailand.
Officiating at the ceremony was by Mr. Pong Sarasin, chairman of
Shangri-La Hotel Public Company Limited, Thailand. Board members, owners
and officers from Shangri-La Hotel International Management, Hong Kong
and Shangri-La Hotel Public Company Limited, Thailand, high-level
government officials and other VIP guests gathered to celebrate the
opening of Chiang Mai’s newest luxury hotel.
Dailey, (right) general manager of the hotel welcomes the very first
guests, Khun Kong and Khun Kamolthip Limkool with their two lovely
The ceremony began at the auspicious time of 9.59 a.m. with religious
rites performed by monks from Donchan Temple, followed by the unveiling
of the outdoor signage for Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai. Mr. Sarasin
then struck a traditional Thai gong to symbolise the official opening of
the hotel. Lunch was served in the hotel’s majestic Grand Lanna
Also on this day, the hotel’s very first guests checked in. Khun Kong
and Khun Kamolthip Limkool, and their two daughters arrived just before
10 a.m. Mr. Philip Dailey, general manager of the hotel, greeted them on
arrival with a large bouquet of flowers before a souvenir photo of the
family was taken. They were very honoured and impressed with the warm
To mark this momentous occasion, a special opening offer starting from
US$270 for a stay in a deluxe room, inclusive of buffet breakfast, is
available until February 2008. Guests are also invited to celebrate the
festive season at Kad Kafe, where special introductory prices are
available this Christmas and New Year.
Along with the renowned Shangri-La hospitality, various services,
facilities and amenities, Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai offers 281
guestrooms, and four food and beverage outlets. With up to 3,500 square
metres of meeting and event space, the hotel’s function rooms provide
unlimited possibilities for various events and can easily accommodate a
banquet or event for up to 1,700 guests.
Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai is positioned as a deluxe city resort,
complementing its sister property, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok. Its design
and architecture are influenced by the city’s 700-year history and
strong cultural heritage, and a “Lanna Renaissance” theme is highlighted
throughout its facilities. The new hotel is located in the heart of
Chiang Mai on Chang Klan Road, a convenient 10-minute drive from the
domestic and international airports, and within walking distance of the
city’s famous Night Bazaar.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post obtains
approval to set up Post in Chiang Mai
Members of the VFW Chiang Mai attending
memorial services at the Foreign Cemetery in Chang Mai on the 11th hour
of the 11th day of the 11th month.
(l-r) Bill Johnson, Bob Johnson, George Olson, George Mayo, Michael
(Post Commander) Bill Duden, Roger Proper, Michael See, Leonard Cozzo,
Jay Sapp and Vic Frappier.
After many years of effort, we finally have approval for a Post of the
American Veterans of Foreign Wars here in Chiang Mai.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars is a not for profit American organization
that is specifically Chartered to Assist Widows and Orphans of Members
who pass away. In addition the VFW supports the community.
The ceremony for the initialization of our new Post is January 17, 2008
at the Grandview Hotel in Chiang Mai. We will start at 11:30 AM followed
by a luncheon buffet. The American Chiang Mai Consulate General will be
The VFW has been around since 1899 with it’s beginning as a result of
the Spanish American War where Veterans decided to “take care of their
own” and lobby the US Government for better benefits for former US
To be a member a person must have served in a War or recognized conflict
such as the Korean War or the Vietnam War.
Should you like any further information we do have a website
www.vfw-chiangmai .org and you may visit the National VFW website in the
US at www.vfw.org .
Should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to
contact our Post commander Mike Holmes at [email protected]
The Love of Siam
A Thai movie from the heart
Even if you are not one of the millions who have helped make Rak
Hang Siam a smash hit and its soundtrack the number one selling CD, you
will surely know that this is a movie about love. Not the kind cynically
celebrated by Cole Porter in Love for Sale, but in its gentler aspects.
No bar boys or girls intrude here.
This is about puppy love, teenage love, gay and heterosexual love, love
of friends and family, love of music and love of God above all life. It
is also about lost love.
It is a movie that wears its heart so blatantly on its sleeve that the
hard of heart may find it played at too emotional a pitch and think that
the young musician hero, Mew, is in the words of the song, “Falling in
love with love”. And make believe.
The rest of us will applaud writer-director Chakiat Sakweerakul
(13 Beloved) for creating a breakthrough movie that looks at aspects of
Thai life and culture in ways seldom hinted at previously.
The theme is universal, the tone indigenously Thai and if international
success follows it will be because of that.
Its message is as clear as the Beatles’ photograph that adorns Mew’s
wall, endorsing as it does one of their most famous lyrics, love is all
you need. In a key scene the boy-band August are advised by their
producer to broaden their appeal, “Over 95 per cent of chart toppers are
love songs”, he adds. Mew their leader and composer is at a loss how to
The Love of Siam opens with a long pre-credit sequence where we see Mew
as an only child, living with his grandmother. His (widowed?) father has
left them and Bangkok. Tong his neighbor is at the centre of a devout
Catholic family, with a dominating mother, a weak father and an older
sister, desperate for independence from the claustrophobic household.
When she mysteriously disappears in the jungle north of Chiang Mai, the
shattered father turns to drink and they decide to move away, leaving
Mew distraught at the prospect of losing his only friend. When his
grandmother dies he is alone except for his music.
As the film proper begins, Mew and Tong –now handsome teenagers –meet
again in Siam Square and renew the friendship, which sustains the film’s
narrative. Mew is established as gay, though not overtly so, whilst Tong
is the increasingly reluctant trophy boyfriend to the possessive Donut
After rejecting the suggestion by his infatuated neighbor that she
should be his girlfriend, Mew sits down to write the words and music
demanded by his producer. He looks at the boyhood photographs of him and
Tong and writes the first of several songs, which punctuate the movie
like muffled explosions. Nowhere more so than when he previews one at a
party and sings it directly to his funny valentine. Tong is over-awed by
its emotional directness. Who wouldn’t be?
It is the upturn to the melancholy scene between the youngsters when Mew
recounts his desperate loneliness and the fear if loving someone again
following he loss of his grandmother. If he never cares for anyone
again, he won’t be hurt. Tong, wrestling with his own emotions, puts his
arm around the vulnerable boy’s shoulder in a tender echo of the
photographs taken five years before.
This is a prelude to the much talked about scene in the garden where,
after the party Mew asks his friend (knowing the answer) if he liked the
song. It is a plea for acceptance. Once again Tong puts his arm around
his friend’s shoulder and it is he who initiates the kiss, which caused
mild controversy and even embarrassed laughter at some screenings. In
fact it is out of deep friendship and a thank you for the song and the
love, which inspired it
His mother seeing it –like some of the audience – simply as a ‘gay’ kiss
is mortified. She has lost a daughter, her husband is an alcoholic wreck
and now she fears losing her son, without the prospect of a family: a
disaster, not least in Asia. Her possessiveness leads her to confront
Mew and he is bullied into not seeing his friend.
The complicated plot unravels amidst the chaos in the family as the look
alike June stands in for the missing daughter and we are left wondering
whether she might actually be her. This subplot parallels the comings
and goings of the band and the other youngsters at drinks parties, at
school, in restaurants and around the city, climaxing with the public
debut in August.
Mew rejoins the group, having once again told his admirer that they can
only be friends and Tong has finally told Donut that it is all over
between them. He goes to the concert where a new song is once again
performed as an open love letter. This time the outcome is different.
Tong gives his friend a poignant Christmas gift, a part missing from an
earlier present. He tells him that he cannot be his boyfriend adding,
“But that doesn’t mean I don’t love you”. Mew has lost and found true
love in the same instant.
Audiences are left to interpret this and other scenes as they wish. Tong
has already admitted that he lets people down, “because I don’t know
what I am”. All he knows is that he must return to his family, the
bedrock of his existence. How long before he too seeks independence?
Unusually, the film questions what keeps Thai families together. Mew
returns to his band and, as many observers have noted, returns to the
person most supportive of him despite their problematic relationship.
Even so the movie ends with Mew in tears. This is, after all, a film
about teenage love.
Importantly, it is also a film that dares to confront matters that are
left unsaid in Thai society, with its conservatism and rules of
This is the importance of a work that might have been inspired by
Francis Coppola’s golden-hued teenage movie The Outsiders which has the
same ability to convey emotion, joy and heartache. Coppola has never
been shy of confrontation, something alien to Thais. But Sakweerakul
subtly and intelligently undermines such reticence, confronting subjects
such as domestic turmoil and overlaying them with sweetness.
Even with sweetness to coat the bitter pill, none of this would be
palatable without his skill, especially with actors. Sinjai Hongthai
plays the often unsympathetic mother with radiant aplomb, recalling an
earlier Sophia Loren. As for the young stars, theirs’ is a triumph of
casting and talent.
Mario Maure, a handsome look-krueng is already the heartthrob of young
Thais of both sexes. In the less showy part he handles emotional scenes
with Mew and with his friends and Donut with force and dignity.
Witchwisit Hirunwongkul as Mew, conveys all the pain and anxious
tenderness of a teenager tossed like a leaf at the mercy of the
elements. They and the rest of the cast live their roles so convincingly
that Rak Hang Siam emerges as not so much a feature film as a close up
and personal portrait of Thai life.
Rak Hang Siam is still on release in selected cinemas and will be
released on DVD early in the year. The soundtrack album is currently a