Vol. VII No. 34 - Tuesday
August 19 - August 25, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


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

Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam publish “Responsible Tourism” guide

Ouch, that hurts! Things that cause students pain

Cultural Canvas Thailand launches its new Art Programme in Chiang Mai

Local artist short-listed in international competition

MI and GMS-BF sign trade program agreement

Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam publish “Responsible Tourism” guide

Bangkok, August 13, 2008 - The fast growing tourism destinations of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have published a 148-page guide book showing where and how to enjoy responsible tourism activities in the three countries.

The front cover of the recently published Responsible Tourism guide.
Over 25 activities in each country have been profiled in “The Guide to Responsible Tourism in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.” Each activity creates income for local people, minimises potential negative tourism impacts, involves members of the local communities in running the business, conserves natural and cultural heritage, provides meaningful experiences for tourists, helps people with physical disabilities, and builds respect between visitors and hosts.
For example, the book makes it easier for tourists to trek responsibly with hill tribes, buy handicrafts that keep traditions alive, eat in restaurants that employ former street kids or people with disabilities, stay in accommodation that respects its local community, and discover nature in some of the most awe inspiring areas of Southeast Asia.
“The various recommended activities in the book show the best side of tourism,” said Arjun Thapan, director general of the Asian Development Bank’s Southeast Asia Department. The bank supported the publication through its Mekong Tourism Development Project. “All the activities recommended in the book help alleviate poverty,” he said, “but do so in a respectful and sustainable way that both the host and the visitor can be proud of.” Thapan said continued poverty alleviation measures through tourism are important because millions of people in the sub-region still live on less than two US dollars a day.
Project coordinator, Peter Semone, senior advisor at the Mekong Tourism Office in Bangkok, said: “We designed the book to appeal to tourists who want to pick up a copy and go - and for tour operators and travel agents who would like to add responsible travel experiences to their Mekong sub-region itineraries.” The colour guide book describes 82 tourism experiences from the tourist’s perspective, and how that activity helps local people while respecting local culture and the environment. The book contains full contact and booking information for all the recommended activities, and also contains profiles of the three countries, practical information for travellers, and a list of useful resources and organisations involved with heritage, conservation and responsible tourism.
The guide was written by Mekong sub-region experts Guy Marris, Nick Ray and Bernie Rosenbloom, and edited by Ken Scott. Statistics from the Pacific Asia Travel Association issued last month show that international tourism visitor arrivals year-to-date are growing at a rate of over 13% into Cambodia, 8% into Vietnam and 4% into Laos. Thapan said: “Our aim now is to channel that growth more equitably towards sustainable and responsible tourism operators that help us conserve culture and at the same time fight poverty.”
The 148-page Guide to Responsible Tourism in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam costs US$15 (plus postage), and can be ordered through the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s online publication catalogue at http://www.pata.org/catalogue/product.php?productid=16365&cat=0&page=1&featured, or by email at [email protected] . Tel: (+66) 2658 2000 ext 121.


Ouch, that hurts! Things that cause students pain

How to balance education and fun

Mark Hefner,
Payap University

In Chiang Mai, the new school year is in full swing. The cliques that students normally form have settled, and everyone sticks to their little groups. The new students are learning how to get around and the old students are trying new ways to cope with their classes - although, only study helps with that! It seems that right now is a good time to offer some advice to students - and also to ask parents to read this and impress on their kids that it makes sense!
The rainy season is also in full swing. As in most places, more rain means more accidents. This year we have been fortunate not to have anyone seriously hurt in accidents. There was a motorcycle mishap at Payap University International College, but the injury was more to pride than the body. With that said, don’t get the idea that it could happen to the other person. When you start to think that, it will probably happen to you.
Crime in Thailand is something else you should not think you’re immune to, as I pointed out in the last issue of the Payap University International College newsletter, “The IC”, “be watchful over your belongings”. There seems to be a group of criminals working all the universities in Chiang Mai; laptops and bags are being taken from not only Payap University, but Chiang Mai (CMU) and Rajabaht Universities as well. It seems the best way to hang on to your belongings is to eliminate the chance of someone taking them. This is easily accomplished by not walking away from your things, not sleeping next to your bag - one bag was lost this way - and buying a laptop lock for increased security.
Another problem that is common in Thailand is theft via motorcycle. At least one of our students was a victim of this style of crime this semester. In this particular instance, the student was riding her bicycle to Carrefour with her bag in the bike’s front basket. Two young Asian men on a motorcycle rode up beside her, snatched her bag and drove away. This happens throughout Thailand - all students should be aware of this.
The final painstaking note is about self inflicted injuries. In this case, I’m referring to distress that is brought about by letting certain things interfere with your studies. Things like going out with your buddies on a school night, watching TV instead of doing homework, not doing homework and a plethora of other excuses that cause your grades to suffer.
Just this past week midterms happened at Payap University. There were more than a few students stressing out over their lack of effort in their grades. As the results were posted, it was clear that some students were victims of their own lack of attention to their studies. My solution for this is something I learned in my microeconomics class. There are two things that you want, an education and your free time. So you have to make a choice - which one will get more attention? If your grades are falling, then you choose the free time option. If you’re doing ok with your grades, you choose education.
The opportunity cost of doing one more than the other is reflected in the outcome of your grades. If your grades are falling and you can’t seem to get control of your free time, then you need to eliminate some of your educational responsibilities so you can have more time for your extracurricular activities.
The way you do this is to eliminate a class or two until your grades start to rise. If one class doesn’t do the trick, then eliminate two classes. If that doesn’t work, eliminate more. Some students are taking 7 and 8 classes per semester - in my opinion, (unless they are born with an educational gift giving them this ability), this is too many and should be discouraged. Most of these students are only passing with a C average. Some are failing their classes and having to repeat the entire class the following year.
Now, if the quality of your education is not important to you, then continue on with your madness and, when you finish and look back, try to figure out what you have learned. Chances are, it won’t be much and you will have wasted your time at the university. Statistically, chances are you will never go to school again for the rest of your entire life.
Taking four or, at the most, five classes is the best choice for the average student. Although it will cost you more in the long run in terms of money and an extra year or two at school, you should be able to get decent enough grades for you learn something and add value to your education. Don’t let your education advisor, or your parents, force you into taking more classes than you can handle.
It won’t take a potential employer long to figure out your education work ethic is not something they need in their organization. Good luck in getting a decent job. There are plenty of university grade students flipping burgers, or selling noodles, right outside university gates around the world. Being a student is difficult but it’s nothing compared finding a job, paying your bills and taking care of a family.
You’re paying for these classes so don’t waste your money and time at a university or you may regret it for the rest of your life.


Cultural Canvas Thailand launches its new Art Programme in Chiang Mai

Focus on confidence and marketable skills through creativity

Armed with colours and crayons, a local organisation promotes community through creativity. With the launch of its new Canvas Art Programme, (CAP), the non-profit Cultural Canvas Thailand organisation is bringing the joy of art to Chiang Mai groups and NGO’s. Through various creative mediums, CAP utilises art as a tool for change, giving the participants a voice which can be seen even when it is not always heard.

Children pictured concentrating on a CAP project specifically designed for their needs.

By partnering with local humanitarian organisations that reach out to various groups, including Burmese refugees and Hill Tribes, CAP is offering relief through a creative lens.
Through an ongoing dialogue, the CAP team design creative workshops for each organisation based on their participants’ needs. By providing an inclusive and secure environment, the programme encourages confidence through creation. The group utilises art and expression to help participants release personal and societal stresses. Whilst most workshops promote emotional literacy and personal development, CAP also designs workshops that teach a marketable skill. “When asked by the Chiang Mai Buddhakasetra Foundation, one of our partner organisations, to create a workshop that was fun and practical, we designed a wood-block printing project,” notes Emily Scott, Canvas Art Director. “The girls loved the project, and can now sell their cards at the local monthly tribal market.”
With several successful workshops under their belt, the CAP is now working on a series of community exhibitions that will raise awareness and funds for both their project and for partner organisations. The group has a full project calendar for the months ahead, and is currently seeking supplies and donations to help sustain the workshops. To get involved with the Canvas Art Programme, please visit www. culturalcanvas.com, or, better still, visit them in person at the Lunch and Fashion Show to be held by the Rooftop Charity at the Shangri-La Hotel on August 27, where CAP will have a booth. Tickets at 350 baht including a buffet lunch are available from the reception desk at Hillside 4 Condos on Huey Kaew Road.


Local artist short-listed in international competition

Chakkrit Chimnok - focus on natural materials and culture

In a recent article, the Chiang Mai Mail featured a local Chiang Mai artist, Chakkrit Chimnok, who had been chosen to go forward in the Asia-Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize competition. Chakkrit has since been short-listed as one of the 10 finalists. He was kind enough to agree to a brief interview with the CM Mail, who first congratulated him and asked him how he felt about being short-listed. Chakkrit replied that he was delighted that he had been able to successfully bring the culture of using banana leaves and the beauty of the dried leaves themselves into focus for the general public. What asked about the main inspiration for his work, Chakkrit explained that, for his successful entry, he had been inspired by the way of life and tradition of local people in the use of banana leaves. Our reporter mentioned that Chiang Mai residents would very much like to view his art pieces; Chakkrit listed three galleries, Japan Foundation Art Space and Jim Thomson Art Space in Bangkok, and Meo Jai Dee Gallery in Chiang Mai, and of course, his web space at http://4003046.spaces.live.com.
When asked what he had been working in since he finished his short-listed piece in 2006, Chakkrit said that he had been exploring interactive and performance art , dealing with natural materials, and was planning to further develop his artwork by using natural materials combined with local tradition and culture in different kinds of art forms. When reminded that one of the awards to be given in the competition was the “People’s Choice “award, and asked how the Mail’s readers could help him to win this award, Chakkrit said that he would pass on the following URL, http://www.nhb. gov.sg/sam/signatureartprize/vote.html to various organizations, art institutions, groups of people and individuals. The Mail invites its readers to visit the site, and, if you like Chakkrit’s artwork, please do vote for him!


MI and GMS-BF sign trade program agreement

Outdet Souvannavong, (seated left), and Dr Suchat Katima, joint signatories
to the MoU, pictured with witnesses (l-r) Khamsouk Sundara, Dounghathai Boonyapraputi Latsamy Keomany and Somphone Phasavath.

The Mekong Institute, (MI), will work with the Greater Mekong Sub-region Business Forum, (GMS-BF), to create a training program for trade and investment facilitation along the GMS Economic Corridors. The two organizations will design the program to build capacity in regional development, cooperation and integration, using their individual strengths and expertise. It will incorporate policy dialogues, strengthening business relationships, building a GMS-wide network, and research.
MI Director, Dr Suchat Katima, said: “This is a very exciting project. The Economic Corridors provide enormous opportunities for communities across the GMS. We are looking forward to working with GMS-BF, and hope this will be the first of many joint programs.”
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed on August 8 at the GMS-BF headquarters in Vientiane by Dr Suchat and GMS-BF Secretary-General Outdet Souvannavong. Dr Suchat was accompanied by Latsamy Keomany, the Lao PDR representative on MI’s Steering Committee.



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