Vol. VII No. 33 - Tuesday
August 12 - August 18, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


BUSINESS & TRAVEL
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A memorable evening for Skål members and guests at Tamarind Village

Royal Project to prevent Ping River floods

Russian author, dissident and Nobel Prizewinner Solzhenitsyn dies aged 89

Flash floods and mudslides cause chaos in Chiang Rai

A memorable evening for Skål members and guests at Tamarind Village

Naphat, Reinhard, Anchalee, Payanit, Noppadon and Mohamad (l/r).

Last month, Skål’s regular monthly dinner was held at Tamarind Village, an atmospheric, peaceful and beautifully designed “boutique” haven set amidst the clamour of the Old City. Surrounded by ancient temples and quaint shopping streets, the complex takes its lovely name from a magnificent 200 year old tamarind tree which stands in all its glory at the entrance. The hotel has recently been expanded to provide extra accommodation and public rooms; the new buildings blending in so well with the older structures and mature trees in their courtyard settings that one would never know that they are more recent additions.
As Skål members and their guests arrived, they were greeted by a tremendous tropical downpour and also, much to their relief, by attentive hotel staff bearing very large umbrellas! Everyone made it safely to the upstairs reception area, with the occasional puddle-jumping on the way, where they were greeted by Khun Naphat,
Tamarind’s general manager, and even more of her attentive staff bearing pre-dinner cocktails. The best was yet to come – a pre-dinner head massage with the compliments of Tamarind Village, which put everyone in the mood for a relaxed evening. Whilst networking and sampling delicious hors d’oeuvres, guests who wandered into a side room were greeted by a jewellery exhibition of pieces in hill tribe silver, selected hardstones and other materials specially set up for the occasion by Teresa and Nok of Nok ‘em Ded Jewellery Designs. Altogether, a very different start to what has become a regular monthly treat for Skål members.
Once everyone was settled in the dining room, Paul and Ken were delighted to welcome back Skal Chiang Mai’s Madame President, Khun Anchalee, who looked stunning in her role of Mom-To-Be. It was noticed that Khun Anchalee’s staff all sported their smart, new polo-shirt livery of black with a gold logo for “ELE” -Elephant Life Experience. May we say the new uniform is very ELEgant?
Aside from the delicious Thai meal with wine and the excellent service provided by the Tamarind Village staff, members and their guests were taken on a fascinating, beautifully photographed journey down the length of the majestic Mekong River, presented by Reinhardt Hohler. His description of his trip, (accompanied by a photographic record including some magnificent views), along the Mekong’s course, which flows from China to border Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and finally Vietnam, was fascinating to hear. Much laughter, however, was caused by photos of the hovercraft, in which he and his friends were travelling, being laboriously lifted on and off various vehicles as it was unable to cope with a series of rapids! A magnificent river with an amazing ecology and unimaginable tourist and travel potential for all of the countries it borders, and which is in the process of being disrupted and maybe even destroyed by human greed. If only the bureaucrats would untangle the red-tape which enmeshes them, (possibly just as long as the river!), and realise that Nature will hit back eventually if she is too disturbed by human intervention.
At the end of the evening, Khun Naphat presented every guest with a Tamarind Village Privilege Card, a totally unexpected kindness, after which committee member David thanked her for a most memorable and enjoyable Skål evening.

Skål members and their guests at Tamarind Village,
enjoying their latest monthly get-together.


Royal Project to prevent Ping River floods

Mayor presides over grass planting on built-up banks

Deputy CM governor Phairoj, 3rd from left, and CM Mayor Dr Duentemduang, 4th from left, are among the officials planting Vetiver grass along the Ping River banks.

As part of a Royal Project undertaken to prevent flooding of the Ping River following heavy rains, the Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai and the Deputy Governor of the province, Phairoj Saengphuwong, presided over the planting of Vetiver grass on an area of newly reinforced and built-up river bank. The ceremony, intended to honour Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of her Birthday on August 12, was attended by the Harbour Department, the Royal Thai Commercial Navy and teachers and students of the adjacent Sacred Heart School.


Russian author, dissident and Nobel Prizewinner Solzhenitsyn dies aged 89

CMM Reporters
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the world-famous Russian literary giant who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970 “for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature”, died in Moscow last week aged 89.
Solzhenitsyn’s fame centred on his graphic depictions of the brutality of Stalin’s death camps; perhaps his best-known work was “The Gulag Archipelago”, banned in Russia but published in the West in 1973, which described in horrific detail the reigns of terror of both Lenin and Stalin, and the gulags in which more than 20 million people died. Western readers were horrified by the detail contained in his writings; as a result Solzhenitsyn was stripped of his Soviet citizenship and forced into exile, first in West Germany, and later in the USA.
Born in Rostov, Solzhenitsyn grew up witnessing the hunger and violence of the early years of the Soviet Union. Having graduated in Maths and Physics, he served in the Communist Red Army as an officer during World War 2, and was decorated for bravery. In 1945, having criticised Stalin in a letter, he was sentenced to 8 years’ hard labour in a prison camp, from which he emerged totally disillusioned with the Communist regime. “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.”, based on his personal experiences of hunger, summary justice and cruel treatment, was a documentation of his development into one of the most prominent dissidents of the Soviet era. The book, and his subsequent novels, destroyed the then fashionable Western left-wing intellectual sympathies for the Communist regime, and stood as an inspiration to many, sending the message that totalitarian regimes can be made to fall through personal courage.
Keen to distance himself from the Stalinist terror regime, the Russian president Khrushchev at first welcomed Solzhenitsyn’s writings. After his fall, however, the author’s works were again banned and he began to experience harassment by the KGB, resulting in his deportation in 1974. In the West, he received shelter and much praise, but was also highly critical of what he referred to as the decadence, weakness and materialism of Western culture. He returned to Russia as a hero 20 years later to live quietly in Moscow, but continued to criticise in his writings both Western materialism and Russian bureaucracy. More recently, his disgust with the new-style Russian industrial tycoons was also expressed, but regarded as unfashionable; however, his popularity recently enjoyed a revival during Putin’s presidency.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn is survived by his wife and his three sons.


Flash floods and mudslides cause chaos in Chiang Rai

Bridge destroyed, village cut off, cornfields flooded

After exceptionally heavy rain in several districts in Chiang Rai province, the Mekong River overflowed its banks and flooded some 600 rai of cornfields in Chiang Saen. A flash flood destroyed a bridge leading to a village in Patung sub-district, preventing some 300 hill tribespeople from taking their produce, (corn and ginger), to be sold. The local administration organisation had contacted the Department of Highways to provide temporary iron supports for the bridge, but none had been provided. Later, it was found that the Kong River, which marks the border between Thailand and Laos, had flooded 300 rai of cornfields in Bansaew sub-district and other agricultural areas and that there had been a mudslide on the mountain at Ban Kiewsatai.



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