Volunteers to teach municipal officials and students at municipal schools
Cross Culture Education Project to begin this week
The Mayor, Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai, (centre
with volunteer teachers and municipal staff.
Last Thursday, June 5, Duenpen Chaladlam from the Chiang Mai Friends Group
invited local foreign residents to an Orientation Day for volunteers
interested in the teaching of English to the municipality and in 11
Fifteen volunteers attended the briefing, joining a further seven who had
previously registered but unfortunately were not able to attend. The
prospective teachers included ex-professors and lecturers, ordinary teachers
with TEFL qualifications, housewives, and even house husbands! Along with
the eleven schools, 95 Municipal employees from all levels have expressed an
interest in learning to communicate more efficiently in English. The school
students being taught will be aged between 11 - 12 years old.
The Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai, officially welcomed
the group, and fully endorses the efforts of the Cross-Culture Education
Project, hoping it will bring about a better understanding between all
citizens and residents of Chiang Mai. She also hopes this will lead to
better communication between municipal officials and foreign residents.
For those who had concerns about their visa status, it was explained that
all volunteers would have special permission to teach at the Municipality
and the schools, and that this would be endorsed by the Immigration Office
of Chiang Mai.
Volunteers would be expected to teach for 2 hours per day, 1 day per week.
To those without experience of teaching in Thailand, Hugh Leong gave an
interesting insight into the necessary skills, and emphasised that
conversation skills, including pronunciation and the rhythm and emphasis of
the English language, as well as its culture-related aspects, should be
Anyone wishing to volunteer with the group should contact Chiang Mai Friends
Group at [email protected] gmail.com.
Last minute cast change for “The Gin Game”
Director of Gate Theatre to take on major role
That’s show business! After Ron Kasadin, who was to play Weller Martin
in the Gate Theatre’s inaugural production of their 2008 season, fell
off his motorbike last week, it soon became obvious that, sadly, he
would have to step down. Which left only one option - the Gate Theatre’s
director Stephan Turner, himself a seasoned actor as well as director
had to step into the role with only 9 days to learn the part! A theatre
person through and through, we’re sure he’ll do a great job!
new cast at a rehearsal.
“The Gin Game” is an intense, spiritual stage drama written by famous
American playwright D.L. Coburn and originally produced on Broadway, and
is the story of a woman in her twilight years, Fonsia Dorsey, who enters
a “home for the aged” and is for a while, saved from melancholy by the
crusty charm of Weller Martin. The sardonic Weller cajoles Fonsia into
playing a series of gin games on the home’s sunlit porch. As they
seemingly become close companions, much is revealed about their
respective regret-filled lives - to the steady shuffling and playing of
cards. Their mutual need for solace is momentarily satisfied, until
Weller’s pent-up rage and Fonsia’s subtle needling build to a terrible
Described by critics as “a raw, emotional and vibrant stage play”, the
two act, four scene, two character drama The Gin Game will be presented
to audiences at the Kad Studio Theatre, Kad Suan Kaew, beginning Friday,
June 13, with additional performances scheduled each successive Friday
and Saturday with the exception of the weekend of July 4, when
performances will be on Saturday and Sunday, July 5 and 6. The show will
close on July 12. Doors open at 7:00 pm for each performance, with
curtain at 7:30.
Suggested donation is 300 Baht.
Midnight University academics propose new constitution to end political strife
The Women’s Education Centre at Chiang Mai University was the
venue for a meeting held on May 27 by the Midnight University, convened
by the Dean of CMU’s Faculty of Law, Prof. Somchai Preechasilpakul.
Representatives of 137 academics from across the country signed a
statement stressing the need to draft a new constitution with the
purpose of ending the political tension at present causing concern.
Discussions centred on the failure of the constitution drafted by the
recent military government, (which, having overturned the previous 1997
constitution, had unsuccessfully attempted to create new rules), and the
recent attempts by the present government to ratify certain of its
clauses. Claims have been made that the attempted ratification would
have only served to solve certain party political problems, and that the
changes could well have caused more dissention amongst the general
public, worsening an already unstable political situation.
A new constitution, drafted with the cooperation and involvement of all
disparate groups and political parties in a similar manner to the 1997
constitution, should involve the setting up of a liberal draft council
of representatives from varying groups with differing backgrounds in
society, culture, sex, economic status and ethnic origins. The council
must not contain representatives of high-ranking officials, businessmen
and politicians. The draft itself should be open to the opinions and
suggested improvements of society in general, and should facilitate the
exchange of relevant data. On completion, the draft should be presented
to the public at large, and a free and open referendum should take place
without intervention by political parties.
The Midnight University called on all in Thai society to join with them
in supporting the need for a new constitution, in order to encourage
true democracy in the Kingdom and to ensure that further economic and
social problems do not occur due to political strife.
Academics and their representatives at the
Midnight University’s recent CMU meeting, led by the Dean of CMU’s
Faculty of Law, Prof. Somchai Preechasilpakul.
Love raises 90,000 baht
Fundraiser in aid of Freedom House School for street kids
On May 30, JJ Markets was the venue for an auction and
music night held by Freedom House to raise funds for their school, which is
committed to providing education and opportunities to street kids in Chiang
Mai. Without the charity’s efforts, these children would have no choice but
to follow their parents’ footsteps into extreme poverty and begging. The
education provided by the Freedom House School gives them the chance to
change their futures by learning not only Thai and English, but also music
and art; most importantly they are encouraged to play, laugh and express
The event at JJ’s was entitled ‘Kissmetta’ and was organised by Lisa, the
founder of Freedom House, and Ellen, with Pim Kemasingki and John Wright
doing their usual great job as MCs. Much to the delight of the audience, the
children themselves opened the evening with their own show, followed by Mr
Bradley, who, in his much-loved and truly professional manner, entertained
both the children and the older audience, together with Postman and the Chi
Blues. The serious fundraising began when John Wright, doubling as
auctioneer, encouraged even the most reticent to delve into their wallets
and bid for paintings by well-known Thai artists including Kamin
Lertchaiprasert, Rungsak Dokbua and Chumpol Taksapornchai. Over 200 guests
joined in the fun, unaware of what to expect as it was Freedom House’s first
event, all of whom were delighted at having raised over 90,000 baht for a
truly deserving cause, and all of whom are eagerly awaiting the next event!
“Sustainable Cities in
Chiang Mai - a City in a Valley”
Book launch at Café Pandau
On May 31, a book launch including a question and answer
session and an organic buffet was held at Café Pandau on Nimmanhaeminda Road
to celebrate the latest in Dr Duongchan Charoenmuang’s series of books on
sustainable cities worldwide, entitled “Sustainable Cities in Chiang Mai; A
Case of a City in a Valley”. Dr Duongchan is a research fellow at CMU’s
Social Research Institute and also the Secretary General of the Urban
Development Institute Foundation. Previous books in the series deal with
cities in the West, Japan, Bali, and the Thai areas of Phitsanulok and Nan.
All the books in the series are being translated into English, with the help
of Dr Tanet Charoenmuang, Dr Duongchan’s husband, and Carole Beauclera, a
local farang editor; the project is being funded by the Heinrich Böll
owner of Café Pandau, Carole Beauclera, author Dr Duongchan and her husband
Dr Tanet Charoenmuang (l/r) at the Launch Party.
In her talk about her new book, Dr Duongchan explained that it deals mainly
with the Wat Kat area, and covers a wide range of details including local
beliefs, customs and religion, and their effects on the area. For example,
the ancient “Law of Kud” prevented people from altering the direction of
local waterways, including the Ping River. Later, however, this law was
ignored, resulting in frequent flooding in the city. Whilst extensively
covering a wide range of problems, the book also reaches conclusions and
makes recommendations. A “must read” for residents of Chiang Mai, giving
insights into the problems facing the city today, with links to historical
facts, and questions about the future of the city we all call home.
Musical storytelling evening aids Free Burma Rangers
ArtSpace event raises over 10,000baht
On May 29, ArtSpace on 7 presented a night of musical
storytelling in aid of the Free Burma Rangers, celebrating rich fables and
truths of life and entitled “The Speed of Sound”.
cast of ‘The Speed of Sound’ fundraiser for Free Burma Rangers
The evening began with Lindsay Stevenson strolling amongst the crowd,
playing his guitar and involving everyone. Bradley Dean Whyte welcomed
everyone with the programme for the evening and a very interesting take on
The Arabian Nights, followed by a word from Nathan Collins of Free Burma
Rangers. Nathan is a “local boy”; his family teach at Payap University and
he grew up in Chiang Mai.
“Alchemy Pops” were enthusiastically welcomed, with Rebecca Zolkower singing
“Beautiful” and “So far away”, both originally performed by Carole King. The
night continued with songs from Antoine Garth, Matthew Whiston and Suwannee
Eubank, and readings and spoken words from Chadwick Gray and James Austin
Farrell. At the end of the evening, having raised over 10,000 baht,
socialite Ramlah made this comment; “‘The Speed of Sound’ was a special and
unusual evening enjoyed by an appreciative audience with a shared interest
in artistic expression and a worthy cause. The blend of music, song and the
spoken word was entertaining and inspirational, and a lovely ambiance
prevailed throughout the performances. It was also nice to see the diverse
mix of people attending, and the obvious interest in the commendable
activities of ArtSpace, who deserve great credit for this effort. Very well
done, and I am sure everybody will join me in wishing them future success.”
Free Burma Rangers is a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement who bring
help, hope and love to people in the war zones of Burma. Ethnic
pro-democracy groups send teams to be trained, supplied and sent into the
areas under attack to provide emergency assistance and human rights
documentation. Together with other groups, the teams work to serve people in
Wine Tasting at the
Chedi promotes new label
Glamorous evening, amazing food
Noi from the Wine Gallery,
(3rd left), welcoming Chiang Mai Governor Viboon Sa-nguanphong, (3rd right,
to the Mont Gras Wine Tasting event at the Chedi.
On Friday May 23, Wine Gallery hosted a wine tasting at
the Chedi Hotel to introduce the Mont Gras label to Chiang Mai wine buffs.
Guests included the Governor of Chiang Mai Viboon Sa-nguanphong, Shannon
Morrow, (wife of the US Consul General), and most of the GM’s from the other
major hotels. All guests were asked to dress up in their most colourful
outfits - no black or white was allowed - and almost everyone obliged. It
was good to see such participation and it gave the evening an extra
dimension. Juan Pablo Quijada, export manager of the Mont Gras label was on
hand, together with Khun Noi of Wine Gallery, to give expert advice to the
attendant ‘Hi-So’ crowd.
The new Executive Chef, Blair Mathieson, showed off his skills in the
kitchen with canapés such as freshly shucked oysters Fine de Claire with
lime, mirin, and salmon caviar, Red Snapper Chermoula baked with couscous,
lemon, mint and yogurt and Lamb Shoulder, slow cooked,in white wine with
tomatoes, black olives and basil. The quantity and quality of the food
encouraged many of the guests to forget about their calorie intake!
DJ Mee provided the sounds; his selection of music was perfect for the
occasion, and the elegant outdoor location together with the cool evening
temperature created the ideal setting for this delightful evening.
“Forest in Chiang Mai City Project”
Action as well as talk!
The moderator (left) with Dr
Duentemduang na Chiengmai,
Dr Chao Duangduan na Chiengmai, Ajarn Suksopha and Dr Rangsarit (l/r).
On June 2, Dr Chao Duangduan na Chiengmai opened a
project to plant locally grown trees in a 5 rai plot of land behind the
intersection of Huay Kaew Road and the Canal Irrigation Road. The area is
known locally as ‘Tatroot’ and belongs to the Thai Ruk Pha Foundation, the
Thai Conservation of Forest Foundation.
Approximately 80 people, mainly from the younger generation, (which at least
gives us all hope for the future!), listened to Dr Chao Duangduan na
Chiengmai deliver a passionate speech emphasising that the city of Chiang
Mai needs trees to survive. The Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr Duentemduang na
Chiengmai, who has consistently campaigned for the environment since taking
office, also spoke about sustainable living and announced that a review of
the street tree situation is being undertaken by city authorities after last
year’s expensive disaster concerning the over-planting of trees imported
from areas far south of CM.
At the end of the proceedings, many trees were planted, with Dr Chao
Duangduan na Chiengmai leading the way by planting the fragrant-flowered
“Don Payom”. Many examples of this lovely tree used to grace the Don Payom
market area in Suthep Rd before they were destroyed by city workers during
Inthakhin Festival held
at Wat Chedi Luang
Thousands pay homage to the Pillar of the City
Citizens of Chiang Mai making
offerings of flowers, candles
and incense to the Buddha of 100,000 Rains at the annual Inthakhin,
(Pillar of the City), Festival at Wat Chedi Luang.
Last week, from May 31 to June 7, one of the most
significant religious celebrations in Chiang Mai took place at Wat Chedi
Luang in the old city - the Inthakhin Festival. This ancient rite, initiated
in the north of Thailand over a thousand years ago on the arrival from
south-west China of the ancestors of the present-day Thai peoples, is held
to honour the Pillar of the City, (Sa-Deu Muang - the “navel of the city”,
marked by the pillar itself), which is situated in a large spirit house just
inside the front gate leading to the Wat. Many believe that the Pillar
itself is home to a spirit who protects the city and its inhabitants.
Visitors may view the Pillar only on the days of the festival; during that
time men may enter the spirit house to pay homage, but women must view from
The Inthakhin, (a term from the ancient Pali language) Festival originated
in ancient times as an annual fertility rite, held traditionally at the
beginning of the rainy season, and, in present-day Chiang Mai, involves the
sprinkling of water on the magical image known as the “Buddha of 100,000
rains”, thus ensuring abundant rainfall and a successful rice crop and
invoking peace, happiness and prosperity for the city and its residents. The
Buddha image itself is paraded throughout the city on the first day of the
festival, after which it is placed in front of the Viharn to allow
inhabitants to make offerings of candles and flowers. The festival has been
held at Wat Chedi Luang, the exact centre of the city of Chiang Mai, ever
since the temple was erected shortly after the founding of the city itself
in 1296 AD, the same year in which the first City Pillar was erected, just
outside what is now the boundary wall of the Wat.
Every year, many thousands of farmers, tradesmen and people from all walks
of life travel from all over the north to join with the residents of Chiang
Mai in participating in the ancient ceremonies, making merit, and paying
homage to the City Pillar and to the spirits of the rain. Crowds throng the
grounds of the Wat, spilling over into the nearby streets. Many groups from
outside the city parade through the streets carrying offerings, having
entered Chiang Mai through Thapae Gate, the traditional gate for entry from
the east. The concept of the City Pillar is an integral part of northern
Thai culture, and the animism involved in propitiating the spirit of the
rain is still very much alive.