HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Korean Music & Dance comes to Chiang Mai

U Hotel goes purple and gold for its spectacular Grand Opening

A “home from home in the countryside” -Mae Nai Gardens Beautiful views, clean air and convenient visitor attractions

Knight Time


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.

The Folk Dance named ‘Buchaechum Fan Dance”, performed by gorgeously costumed girls.
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”.

An 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.

Classical 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.

Annie, 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 in style!.

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.

This 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 into sugar.

One 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.

Ideal 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 call on
0897006668. The address is 104/10 M12, Mae Ram, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai 50180
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 [email protected]

Pictured is one of the comfortable bedrooms available.

The swimming pool and sala—ultimate relaxation.

Knight Time

William Parham
‘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 for here?
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 annihilation....’
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 man’s Joker/Batman.
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 serious, son?’
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.