Korean Music & Dance comes to Chiang Mai
In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between the
Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Thailand on July 26, the Kad Theatre
staged a performance of Korean traditional music and dance. Distinguished
guests included H.E. Han Tae- Kyu, Korean Ambassador to Thailand, and Dr.
Wachara Tantranont, Honorary Consul for Korea in Chiang Mai.
Folk Dance named ‘Buchaechum Fan Dance”, performed by gorgeously costumed
The event was free and the theatre was filled to capacity. One of the
evening’s highlights was the “Buchaechum Fan Dance”, a popular folk dance
and a symbol of Korean tradition, in which female dancers in beautiful
costumes hold gorgeous, vividly coloured hand fans and make waves and
flowers by folding and spreading the fans. Other mesmerizing highlights
included the “Buddhist Dance”, Jakbeop, a ritual for the dead which takes
place over three consecutive days. The dance itself and the specific music
to which it is performed is believed to lead the dead into the beautiful
world of the Lord Buddha. This dance was followed by three women, who played
the Gayageum instrument and, with their soft silvery voices, sang the folk
songs ”My Hometown with Gourd Flowers” and the “Fisherman’s Song”. Another
fascinating performance featured a classical instrumental solo played on a
wind instrument, the daegeun, (or danso), and entitled ‘Cheongseong
Jajinhanip’. The piece has been popularly performed in Korea since the late
Joseon period. ‘Choengseong’ simply translates as high pitch, and
‘Jajinhanip’ is a pure Korean translation of the Chinese ‘Sakdaeyeop’ which
was originally a song known as “gagok”.
example of Korean Folk Music —’Gayageum Byeongchang’
Therefore, ‘Cheongseon Jajinhanip’ is a purely instrumental version of the
instrumental accompaniment for “gagok”, performed in high register. It
requires specific relaxed, slow, and long breath cycles from the performer,
harmonized with changing rhythms and colourful embellishments which are
expressed through the clarity of the tones characteristic to the daegeun
The evening ended with a spectacular rendition of “Thunder of the Drums”
which brought the house down! A dozen men and women in traditional costume,
each playing their own set of drums, started methodically slowly and ended
up in a crescendo of tumultuous beats and equally thunderous applause from
the packed audience.
Korean instrumental music-Daegeun Solo, ‘Cheongseong Jajinhanip’
Each individual performance was illuminated by beautiful stage lighting and
vibrantly colourful traditional costumes—all in all, a wonderful evening
celebrating and emphasising the beautiful culture represented by Korean
traditional music and dance. After Chiang Mai, and by the time this issue of
the Mail comes out, the troupe will have performed at the Royal Phuket City
Hotel. Which shows, yet again, that Chiang Mai is second only to Bangkok in
its position at the forefront of international music, dance and
entertainment in Thailand.
The three-day Buddhist Dance ‘Jakbeop’,
used as a ritual for the dead o lead them to the Lord’s Buddha’s realms.
Distinguished guests included H.E. Han Tae- Kyu,
Korean Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, (3rd right).
U Hotel goes purple and gold for
its spectacular Grand Opening
Kavin and Keeree Kanjanapas, the executive
chairman and the managing director of Tanayong Public Co. Ltd.,
Pol.Maj.Gen.Suthep Detch-raksa, Pol.Col.Prachaub Wongsuk, Sorasak
Siriwattanawong, Pol.Col.Pornchai Pakphongsri and Deputy Commander
Sutham Sirithipsakorn (l/r).
The new and very stylish U Hotel on Rachadamnoen Road, (home of the ever
popular Sunday Walking Street), celebrated a very grand “Grand Opening”
in spectacular style on July 25. Upon arrival, the 120 invited guests
were greeted by Youthin, the boutique hotel’s general manager, for the
usual photograph. In full and much appreciated view were two sexy young
men in gold and purple body paint, standing guard at the entrance to the
lobby / reception area, and an exquisite lady seated serenely on a dais
suspended from the ceiling. Once in the lobby, guests were able to
mingle and network whilst enjoying the food and drink on offer. As well
as waiters handing out canapés, there were two food stations, with the
joint of lamb with mint sauce proving to be very popular. 20 drinks
waiters ensured that guests never had an empty glass; whether the
preferred tipple of the evening was wine, whisky or a cocktail, guests
were spoilt for choice and quantity.
Waris, Sommai and Sudaluck enjoying the refreshments.
A tour of the hotel and its facilities revealed the new gymnasium, small
but ‘state of the art’, and including bicycles which residents could
borrow to explore the old town. For the opening evening, the garden area
and the pool had been decorated in resplendent purple and gold, with
lanterns hanging from the trees illuminating the glowing colours.
Krathongs, candles and hanging puppets danced on the swimming pool, part
of which had been converted into a stage.
When the guests were settled, the organiser of the evening’s
festivities, Supodcha (Joe) Swetiyaram of Joe Consulting – Marketing
& Events, gave a resume of the hotel’s attractions, mentioning that,
although specifically a “boutique hotel”, U Hotel was the ideal Chiang
Mai destination for all types of guests, whether couples, families,
business travellers or honeymoon couples because of its situation in the
old town and its individually designed range of rooms. Then the show
began—with 20 Thai dancers who dazzled everyone with their performance
of a mixture of Thai and modern Western dance. The pool was used to full
effect, with four men carrying the girls across it on their shoulders.
Two fire eaters caused something of a sensation when they came extremely
close to the guests! The whole show was enhanced by the beams of the
spotlights, the reflections from the pool and the stunning purple and
gold theme, repeated everywhere. After the finale of the show, Supodcha
introduced U Hotel’s owners and senior management, who received a well
deserved round of applause for a very successful Grand Opening.
Modern dance routines complemented the
traditional Thai dances.
Now that IS an entrance.
The guests included Deirdre, Meadhbh, Marie,
Julie, Marie-Theresa and Marie (l/r).
Have you got a light please!.
That is how you get across the swimming pool
The dancers raise the U for the U Hotel.
A “home from home in the countryside” -Mae Nai Gardens
Beautiful views, clean air and convenient visitor attractions
As the second in out series of resorts with a difference, this
week’s offering is well worth a visit as it’s small, select,
reasonably priced and surprisingly close to town.
Villa is beautifully sited over a running stream which will lull
you to sleep.
Less than 30 minutes’ drive north from the centre of Chiang Mai,
Mae Nai Gardens is the ideal place to go if you feel the need to
escape the heat and hassle of the city for a few days. The
resort describes itself as, “your home in the countryside”—an
apt description. Four attractive villas are widely spaced on 12
rai of beautifully landscaped gardens situated in the foothills
of Doi Suthep National Park, very close to Mae Rim. The country
setting is ideal for those who wish to see more of Thai rural
life, with paddy fields and fruit orchards close by, yet still
in the vicinity of all the visitor attractions on the Mae
Rim/Samoeng Road, including Mae Sa Elephant Camp, the Queen
Sirikit Botanic Garden, bungee jumping, several orchid farms and
off-road vehicle driving. If you’re feeling really adventurous,
or just don’t fancy riding elephants, how about riding a
buffalo? Just a few km outside Mae Rim is the Buffalo Training
Camp, set in approximately 21 rai of land. The aim of the camp
is to preserve the traditional way of life of the Thai farmer
and the buffalo. Visitors are taught the basic commands of ‘turn
left’ ‘ turn right’ and ‘go straight’. They can also see a
traditional buffalo-operated water wheel which provides
irrigation for the paddy fields, and the traditional buffalo-
powered pulping machine, (the design of which has remained
unchanged for hundreds of years), used for turning the raw cane
of the comfortable 2- bedroomed villas available.
Massage and spa treatments can be arranged, and the dining
opportunities in the area range from the sophistication of the
nearby Four Seasons, to the tasty street food available in Mae
Rim itself. You can even dine with tigers at the new Tiger
Kingdom visitor attraction down the road! For the energetic, or
those who feel their calorie count may have been excessive
during their stay, the Green Valley Country Club’s championship
18 hole par 72 golf course, designed by Dennis Griffiths and
Associates Inc, is close to the resort.
for friends—a bedroom with two single beds!
The villas for rent at Mae Nai Gardens range in style from a
typical wooden “rice storage” guesthouse to a Thai style brick
bungalow with two spacious en suite bedrooms overlooking the
beautiful palm-fringed salt water swimming pool. All the
guesthouses are well-appointed and decorated with local textiles
and art work. Rates vary from 1,200 to 4,000 baht per night, but
special rates are available for longer stays. The villas also
provide a very pleasant alternative for guests of residents of
Chiang Mai who might like to stay in the beautiful Chiang Mai
countryside rather than a hotel in the centre of town.
The gardens and immediate neighbourhood are ideal for bird
watching, fishing, cycling or just chilling out by the pool. The
owner, Kuhn Pop, is an excellent host, and will ensure a warm
welcome and a relaxing break from the city. For further details,
please visit the resort’s website at www.maenaigardens.com or
0897006668. The address is 104/10 M12, Mae Ram, Mae Rim, Chiang
If readers know of a resort they have found to be slightly
different from the rest or something rather special and not
necessarily expensive, please contact
Pictured is one of the comfortable
The swimming pool and sala—ultimate
‘I said well, that’s pretty cold. And he said it was no
colder than what the facts called for.’
I remembered that line from Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country
for Old Men partly because it’s my mother tongue, Texas talk,
and it has a certain rhythm to it. But mostly because I’d just
come from seeing that spellbinder of a film, The Dark Knight and
was mesmerized by Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. And I
wondered, how do we figure this clown? What do the facts call
When we think of evil in the world, we think of having a plan to
bring down ‘the good,’ masterminded by a warped, yet calculating
mind. The Joker, toying with his playmate/rival Batman,
understands that good is only accentuated when contrasted with
evil. The Joker banters to Batman, ‘I don’t want to kill you,
you complete me.’ And the complexity of this film is that Batman
understands this too. He has a chance to kill the Joker, as do
others in the film but, at the last moment, they decline.
This is the dance of good and evil, very logical and balanced.
Much of our western literature sashays around this theme. The
stories end unambiguously with a win either for good or for
evil. The Joker understands this logic, but he prefers not to
play this way. It’s too boring. When he proceeds to torch a huge
pile of money that he and his cohorts have gone to enormous
feats to obtain, he says mockingly dead serious, ‘it’s not about
the money, it’s about sending a message.’
After all the destruction, only ‘sending a message’? That’s
pretty cold. This reminds me of a story in The New York Times
about the recently captured Serbian war criminal, Radovan
Karadzic. In 1991,speaking before the Bosnian Parliament, who
had been debating a referendum on independence from Serbian
control, Karadzic said to them, ‘Do not think you will not lead
Bosnia into hell and the Muslim people into possible
At the time, the author of this article, Aleksandar Hemon,
couldn’t fathom what Karadzic must mean by the word
‘annihilation’. Did he mean ‘historical irrelevance’? Since
Karadzic had already planned the genocide of the Bosnian Muslims
for the purpose of a Greater Serbia, why did he bother with the
1991 speech before the Bosnian Parliament? ‘The point of that
performance’ the author concluded ‘was the performance itself.’
It was about sending a message to his Serbian people that he was
a determined leader who would take them through the hell of
genocide to a Serbian land of ethnic integrity. A man with a
plan, history is littered with them. ‘I choose chaos,’ The Joker
says, ‘humanity is what you lose when you’re busy making plans.’
We’re now very far into the dark from the original 1939 comic
book appearance of Batman followed in 1940 by the appearance of
his vigilante double and arch enemy, The Joker. The Joker has
always been a violent creature, a wily and maniacal murderer.
But in the film The Dark Knight, he clearly becomes, well,
something different — beyond good and evil, to state the banal,
a sort of ‘super-sanity in which he creates himself each day to
cope with the chaotic flow of modern urban life.’ The thinking
This statement could equally be said about the character Anton
Chigurh in the Coen Brothers film of McCarthy’s novel. This
stop-at-nothing psychopath is motivated by finding a lost cache
of money. The steps toward this goal are coin-flipping,
life-and-death moments of gratuitous violence.
But the Joker and Chigurh differ in their response to violence.
The Joker prefers a knife to a gun because he wants ‘to savour
all the little emotions.’ A gourmet of the kill. Chigurh, not
possessing the finesse of the aesthete, blasts his victims with
a cattlegun straight to the forehead, and then calmly walks
away. Not a sublime moment by any stretch.
Another difference: The Joker enjoys toying with the Batman, his
familiar. But Chigurh? He says, ‘I have no enemies. I don’t
permit such a thing.’ The Joker could be addressing Chigurh when
he says, in one of the film’s most suspenseful moments, ‘why so
At the end of both film and novel, Chigurh, by his own
inflexible world logic, must kill the wife of the man who
possessed the money he sought. He gives her a chance to save
herself by proposing a coin toss with her life as stake. He
takes the coin from his pocket, turns it around so she can see
it’s not fake — ‘for her to see the justice of it.’
Chigurh calmly explains to her, ‘Somewhere you made a
choice….The accounting is scrupulous…. No line can be erased.’
Now, here’s a rules-based man, the perfect bureaucrat. In the
novel, the wife calls the coin and loses. In the film she
refuses to call, but loses all the same of course. The Joker
would have treasured that refusal, he likes his women a bit on
the feisty side.
In The Dark Knight, an odd conversation transpires between the
Batman and Alfred, his loyal factotum: While on a past
assignment in Burma, Alfred ‘found a child playing with a ruby
the size of a tangerine.’ The smugglers had just tossed the gems
away and disappeared. Alfred surmises, ‘some men just want to
watch the world burn.’
‘The only sensible way to be in the world is without rules,’ so
says the Joker. But the international community is based upon a
premise of the rule of law. So, what to do if the Mad Hatters of
the world come to the UN’s tea party and, instead of sitting
down nicely for crumpets, proceed to break all the plates?
Perhaps these Mad Hatters follow the Joker’s direction, ‘I took
your plan and turned it on itself.’ Touché.
Sheriff Bell, the heart and soul of McCarthy’s book, says,
‘somewhere out there is a true and living prophet of
destruction…I know he’s real. I’ve seen his work.’ Well said. At
the end of the film, No Country for Old Men, we see Chigurh
limping away down a calm tree-lined suburban street, much like
15 years ago when we saw another psychopath, Hannibal Lecter in
The Silence of the Lambs, ambling away in a crowd. You know
they’re coming back, unrepentant.
So, if it’s about sending a message — at the end of one book and
two films — what’s that message? In just another turn of many
surprising twists in The Dark Knight, the police commissioner
orders that the Batman be hunted down and arrested. He was,
after all, a vigilante working just as much outside the law as
the Joker. One for good -the other for evil – doesn’t matter.
It’s the people, civil society, who must make and enforce order.
A world of rules.
And the eloquent Sheriff Bell at the novel’s end? ‘And in the
dream I knew that he [his father] was goin on ahead and that he
was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark
and all that cold and I knew that whenever I got there he would
be there.’ No nihilist, McCarthy. But then the last sentence,
‘And then I woke up.’
And how were the Burmese ruby smugglers finally captured? Alfred
said, ‘we burned down the forest.’ Pause. On the Joker’s calling
card — ‘please stand by.’
The Dark Knight is still playing in Chiang Mai — don’t miss it.
Cormac McCarthy’s, No Country for Old Men, that masterwork, can
be found at the AUA Library. Don’t miss this read either.