Experience elephants at close range
Wandering the forest trails with a herd of elephants, riding one
over the fields and across the rivers, feeding and grooming the herd - this
must be an elephant lover’s favourite dream. Elephant Life Experience,
(ELE), lies in the Maetaman Valley, north of Mae Tang, near Chiang Mai, and
makes the dream come true. The name says it all, as it is indeed a unique
Bunara, owner of the Elephant Life Experience, makes his welcome speech.
Visitors to ELE will have the opportunity to view elephants as they should
be seen - as a herd. Isolated from any intrusive man-made noise, people may
stay at the complex as long as they want to. They will be able to study
carefully the lives of the elephants in their natural surroundings, and, at
the same time, enjoy the freedom and flexibility to explore pure nature. In
this beautiful and peaceful area, an idly running river forms the forest
path through the gently wooded hills. Here, the pachyderms regularly enjoy
their baths - guests are welcome to join them! Mahouts show how they train
the giant beasts, and invite guests who want to study the lives of these
“elephant gypsies” to their homes. Each guest is given genuine mahout
clothes which they may take with them when they leave. One very special
skill which the elephants have learned is that of painting, and every guest
will receive an elephant masterpiece as a souvenir of their visit. A remote
lodge is available, which provides comfort and luxury, together with the
choice of a picnic or a delicate and delicious dinner!
The Elephant Life Experience was officially opened on January 17 by the
Minister of Tourism and Sports, Dr. Suvit Yodmani. Together with his wife,
Dr. Suvit was delighted by the establishment of this new camp, where
elephants can be seen in an almost total wilderness. He thanked the owners,
Anchalee Kalmapijit and Varayan Bunarat for their commitment and wished them
all the best for their and the camp’s future. He commented that this was a
terrific chance, especially for teenagers and children, to learn about
nature through experiencing it “from the inside”.
On the opening day, the first visitors to the camp included many senior
executives, mainly from the tourism sector, who joined in the colourful and
amusing opening ceremony with much enjoyment. Dancers moved to the beat of
two drums, one played by Dr. Suvit, the other by an elephant, as a group of
beautiful women, each one dressed in elegant traditional costume and seated
on an elephant, passed by in a picturesque parade. Guests who wished to hop
onto an elephant’s back for a ride
found that their wish was granted! Later, the Amari Rincome’s excellent
German Chef provided a delicious meal for the hundreds of guests. It was a
perfect end to a truly amazing and adventurous elephant experience, one
which many of the guests were determined to repeat on a return visit in the
In an exclusive interview, Anchalee told Chiang Mai Mail’s special
correspondent how she came up with the idea for Elephant Life Experience.
Many tourists, she said, view the usual style of elephant camp as not
attractive because of the fixed, standard programmes at scheduled times. “In
our family business, I’ve been working with elephants since 1976, so I’m
very experienced. Previously, I managed both the Maesa and the Maetaman
Elephant camps simultaneously, with 110 elephants and 400 employees.
Currently, here we have 25 employees looking after 9 elephants, 3 young and
six adult.” Anchalee deprecates the fact that elephants are allowed in
Chiang Mai city and says, “This should be forbidden as it is in Bangkok.
What we need are donations and the help of concerned organizations that
support elephants and their mahouts. The elephant is the national symbol of
Thailand, and the most important priority is to teach people how they should
be treated. It may be difficult to find alternative work for them and their
mahouts which they will be happy to do, but we must change the old law which
regards elephants simply as vehicles”. Asked whether there are other
facilities apart from the National Elephant Hospital near Lampang where old
and sick beasts can be cared for, Anchalee replied, “There are two hospitals
in Lampang, and one in Chiang Mai, as part of the Faculty of Veterinary
Studies at the University. Also, Thailand has a mobile medical service that
covers every corner of the kingdom. As you can see, there are more people
than you might realize who care about and for these wonderful beasts.
Although prices for the adventure have not yet been decided, a programme of
various options has been drawn up. Guests will, of course, be offered an
excellent menu from which to choose, at all times of the day from breakfast
to the evening meal. Special themed nights will be offered, as will wedding
and honeymoon special packages.
To find out more about the camp, send an email to [email protected] or call
081 724 4211 (Anchalee).
Four pretty posers all in a row.
Jennifer Simms (Director of Wellness) and Elfi
Seitz (Executive Editor Pattaya Blatt) fell in love with the baby elephant.
An elephant or Picasso - what’s the difference?
As if a dream...a beautiful maiden on an
elephant wading through a stream.
Mahouts stand proudly in front of their adorable
and talented brood.
Dr. Suvit Yodmani, Minister of Tourism and
Sports, accepts a masterpiece
created by an elephant...Guess he will need a large fireplace!
Dr. Suvit Yodmani and Prai Jumbo play the long
to the enjoyment of the guests.
LTU International Airways hold party
to introduce new service
Bangkok to Berlin direct flights welcome Thai tourists to “Discover Berlin 2008”
On the evening of January 16, LTU International Airways, a
subsidiary of Air Berlin, held a party and presentation at the Saenkham
Terrace Restaurant, to introduce their new service to Berlin as part of
Berlin Tourism’s “Discover Berlin 2008“ initiative.
Weeber-Arayatumsopon from the German Thaifriends club shows off his new
The party was hosted by the German Consul, Hagen Dirksen, whose invited
guests included the Princess Maja von Hohenzollern, who was in town on a
visit to the School for Life, M. L. Sirchalerm Svasti and Mr Raymond
Honings (Managing Director LTU Asia).
Hagen Dirksen welcomed the VIP guests, after which Ralf Ostendorf, sales
director for the Berlin Tourism Marketing GmbH, and Raymond Honings,
executive manager of LTU gave a short presentation about the new
programme of flights from Bangkok to Berlin and the many attractions of
the famous city.
“The exchange between Thailand and the German capital will now be easier
than ever before with the introduction of the new travel route from
Bangkok to Berlin with LTU International Airlines.” said the travel
They emphasised fashion and design, contemporary art and galleries, and
the legendary Berlin nightlife and multimedia scene. Also mentioned were
the 225 discotheques, bars and clubs within the city, and that public
transport runs all through the night, ensuring that night owls can find
their way home safely and comfortably! For daytime shopping fun, as well
as the thirty thousand boutiques, fashion shops with extraordinary
Berlin designs, and stores, there are more than 30 flea markets and
second hand markets scattered around the city. For culture buffs, the
monumental Babylon exhibition will take place this summer at the
Pergamon Museum, and in autumn/winter a major Paul Klee retrospective
will be organised at the new National Gallery.
LTU offers 15 direct flights from Bangkok and Phuket to Berlin,
Düsseldorf and Munich per week with easy connecting flights to major
cities in German and Europe.
Raymond Honings (2nd left) poses with three
very beautiful ladies,
H. H. Princess Maja von Hohenzollern (left) Julie Hastings (2nd right)
and Dominique Leutwiler (right).
Sabina, Susanna and Hans Peter enjoy the
wine and the company
at the LTU gathering.
(l-r) Markus Moschner, LTU regional manager
Asia, Ralf Ostendorf, H. H. Princess Maja von Hohenzollern, M.
L.Sirichalerm Svasti, Raymond Honings (Managing Director LTU Asia),
Dominique Leutwiler, Manager of the School for Life, Khun Wanphen and
the Hon.German Consul, Hagen Dirksen.
Pattidi, Wanphen, M. L. Sirichalerm, Narong,
Wiwat and Chamaiphan take time out for this important social gathering
at the Saenkham Terrace Restaurant.
Official opening of the Sofitel Riverside
Splendid design, superb food, spectacular entertainment
Boomlert Buranupakorn and the Honourable
(second right), opening the Sofitel Riverside Hotel.
Over 200 years ago, the Wat Ket community became established in Chiang
Mai along the banks of the River Ping. Over the course of time,
travellers and merchants from China and the Western world settled there
and influenced architectural styles. 200 years later, in the same area,
the Managing Director of the Riverside Spa Resort Co. Ltd., Boomlert
Buranupakorn, (himself born in Chiang Mai), was inspired to create a 5
star hotel which was to be managed by an international hotel chain, but
100% invested in and designed by local people. His chosen architect,
Ajarn Apichart Sriarun, designed a stunning “low rise” 4 storied
building, inspired by the traditional combined Chinese, Western and
Lanna style of architecture in the immediate area.
Thai dancers entertaining the guests in the swimming pool.
Although the “soft opening” of the new Sofitel Riverside took place some
9 months ago, the long-awaited official opening finally took place on
January 19 amid sumptuous celebrations. Brendan Daly, the Sofitel’s
General Manager, greeted his honoured guests, including part and present
Governors of Chiang Mai, General Managers of the top Chiang Mai hotels,
and a number of local businessmen, on their arrival. The opening
ceremony itself was conducted by the Honourable Pornsiri Manoharn, the
Governor of Tourism of Thailand. After the ceremony, held in front of
the hotel, was concluded, many guests were treated to a very special
event indeed. To their surprise and delight, they were invited to travel
by horse and carriage down to the River Ping, where the Sofitel Launch
was waiting to return them to the hotel in grand style!
Awaiting them was a superb dinner menu, specially arranged by the
Sofitel’s executive chef, Mike Drews, who had ordered King Lobsters from
Phuket, Pate de Foie Gras from France, Parma Ham from Italy, a selection
of cheeses from both France and Italy, and many other delicacies
including a delicious selection of Japanese specialities. To go with the
meal, Moet et Chandon champagne was served in quantity! Both during the
dinner and afterwards, guests were treated to Lanna and international
dances and displays, as well as music from the Fusion Jazz Band, and
entertainment by the “Elvis Artists of Thailand”. A much appreciated
feature of the entertainment were the 11 songs of Lanna Jazz flavour
which had been specially composed by Infinity both for the occasion and
for the exclusive use of the Sofitel on future occasions.
Following the “after dinner” speeches, the celebrations ended with a
Grande Finale and a magnificent firework display. The Sofitel Riverside
is situated at the south end of Changklan Road, and has 75 bedrooms on
four floors. Traditional Lanna decorative artefacts are used to stunning
effect in the reception area, whilst the outdoor seating and dining
areas are interspersed with ponds, tropical plants and water features,
all complimenting the originality of the design, and providing a cool
and relaxing environment. Sofitel’s motto is “Because no one country or
city is the same,” Sofitel has made each of its hotels around the world
a truly unique establishment. The same can be said for the opening
celebrations, truly a magnificent affair.
Distinguished guests and management raise a
glass of champagne to toast
the opening of the Sofitel Riverside.
General Managers from around town meeting
Michael Morrow, the US Consul General, and his wife Shannon, at the
opening of the Sofitel Riverside.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post established in Chiang Mai
Official Post installation at the Chiang Mai Grandview Hotel
January 17, 2008 was an auspicious day for the American veterans of
foreign wars now living in Chiang Mai, many of whom served in the
conflict in Vietnam. Post 12074 was installed at the Grandview Hotel,
and named in honour of Squadron Leader John “Scarsdale Jack” Newkirk,
who was killed in action near Chiang Mai during the Second World War.
Webber welcoming Michael Morrow, the US Consul General.
The USA Consul General, Michael Morrow, was on hand to celebrate with
the more than 70 veterans in attendance, together with VWF Department
and District Commanders, Department staff from Korea, members of the
Pattaya, Bangkok and Udon posts, wives and friends of the Chiang Mai
members, and many of the regional VFW staff. The local media were also
out in force, confirming the significance of the new Post.
The swearing in of officers and members of the Chiang Mai Post was
conducted by Rhett Webber, the Department of the Pacific Area Commander.
James Oden, the District 5 Commander, gave the prayer. Michael Morrow
gave a brief address, with words of praise and admiration for the Post’s
establishment in Chiang Mai.
A delightful buffet was provided, and the camaraderie amongst all
present was so thick you could taste it!
The Veterans of Foreign Wars organisation is altruistic and
non-profit-making, its primary benefit being to the wives and children
of America’s military veteran expats.
Please visit the Chiang Mai VFW website, at www.vfw-chiangmai.org for
full details and more photos of the event itself. VFW meetings will be
held on the first Saturday of every month at 11.30 a.m. Location details
and a map are available on the website.
James Oden, Larry Lyons, Jim Malott, Rose
and Rhett Webber (l/r),
with Mike Holmes and Chris Palombi (standing).
Veterans of Foreign Wars being sworn in.