Chiang Mai Friends group’s 9th meeting – a variety of presentations
Duenpen (Boong) Chaladlam, president of the
Chiang Mai Friends group,
with the Spirit House Singers.
The UNISERV building, located next to CMU’s Conference Centre, was
the venue for last week’s 9th meeting of the Chiang Mai Friends group. The
group’s president, Duenpen (Boong) Chaladlam welcomed the 80 or so “positive
and good-hearted people who are helping to serve the community in education
and in the environment” to the conference room, and gave her report of the
previous meeting and the group’s recent activities.
Khun Boong then introduced Professor Dr. Anurak Panyanuwat, the director of
the Academic Service Center of Chiang Mai University (UNISERV) and also a
professor at CMU. He described UNISERV as a service centre for non-degree
programmes such as research and economic consultancy, and a provider of
venues for social functions and human resource events. The facility is able
to provide conference and meeting rooms, reasonably-priced hotel
accommodation and a restaurant (in which a good few of the group’s members
and their guests had already enjoyed a pleasant meal prior to the meeting).
One of UNISERV’s future plans is to hold a seminar, entitled “Farangs in
Law,” intended to increase understanding of the law amongst foreigners who
are married to Thai nationals. Dr. Anurak mentioned that new citizens of
Chiang Mai must feel confused and sometimes lonely and may often need help.
He hoped that UNISERV in cooperation with Chiang Mai Friends group would be
able to provide support and assistance in the future.
The centre is also jointly involved with Royal Projects in the north of
Thailand. Finally, Dr. Anurak encouraged members to fill in a questionnaire
which focused on Thai/foreign couples in the areas of cross-cultural
understanding and such couples’ immediate needs on arrival in Chiang Mai.
Based on the results of the questionnaire, research will be undertaken as to
how best to welcome and support these new arrivals.
Khun Boong then presented slides of the Green Chiang Mai group’s “green
clean-up” at Huay Kaew Waterfall at the beginning of the month, an
enjoyable, if tiring, experience for all those who took part. It had also
been a chance to meet with the superintendent of the national park and to
learn how the park is maintained. The general opinion seems to have been
that extremely hard work came into it somewhere!
The next speaker was Rebecca Lomax, who heads up the Foundation for the
Education of Rural Children (FERC). Rebecca told her audience that she had
arrived in Chiang Mai some 10 years ago, and had soon realised the need for
aid in the education of disadvantaged kids from rural areas, and that, with
her background, both academic and in psychiatric social work, she had the
right qualifications and the will to help. The foundation was established as
a non-political, non-religious, totally transparent and fully registered
Thai charity, with its funds being raised in the USA and Holland as well as
in Thailand itself. The scholarships it provides are based on need as well
as on ability and include designated grants of 10,000 baht per annum to
selected students aged between 15-17 years for their continuing education.
Rebecca showed slides of tribal children from some of the 130 schools in
Region 4 whose students have benefitted from FERC’s generosity. At present,
FERC is also supporting education programmes, an anti-human trafficking
project in Mae Sai and HIV/AIDS programmes such as the Sangha Metta Project,
which works through local temples.
A new and interesting project, the School of Life was introduced by Khun
Boong as a way of teaching which encourages students to care for and stay in
their own home towns or villages rather than go to the cities in pursuit of
higher education, thus risking forgetting their original values and origins.
School of Life is a way to stay in touch with the humanity which is
essential to personal development. In their early and formative years,
everything surrounding children can be used as teaching material. Children
living in a village will receive first-hand knowledge from their elders,
such as folk wisdom, culture, music, dance and local tradition, which can
result in a good heart, a good soul and a strong sense of morals. The Chiang
Mai Friends group will be arranging a trip to visit the School of Life in
the near future. Anyone interested in going should please contact Khun Boong
for further details. Following the above, a member of the newly formed
Chiang Mai Pride group, formed to educate people about HIV/AIDS, introduced
himself to CMF members and guests, and described the group’s plans for a Gay
Pride March to be held in the city.
The last item on the programme was a performance by the Spirit House
Singers, formed almost a year ago to specialise in Renaissance music, both
sacred and secular. The short and charming concert featured 6 madrigals, all
dating from the time of Queen Elizabeth the First in “Merrie England.” As
the group’s founder stated, “Music is the international language which
transcends time.” Perhaps this statement was most apparent in the audience’s
favourite, entitled, “Mother, I will have a Husband – in spite of her who
will have none.” The second phrase referred, of course, to the “Virgin
Queen” herself who, although reputed to have had many lovers, steadfastly
refused to marry throughout the entire length of her reign! Given the fact
that, for royalty, marriage invariably had a political rather than a
personal motivation, who can blame her? The final madrigal was also much
enjoyed by the audience, although the logical conclusion of the opening
lines “Now is the month of Maying, when merry lads are playing – each with
his bonny lass, upon the greening grass,” was left to the listeners”
Mekong Institute organises inter-GMS trade, investment and study trip
Mekong Institute’s ICCD staff
The Mekong Institute, Khon Kaen, in collaboration with the Greater
Mekong Sub-region Business Forum and Yunnan’s Department of Commerce,
recently organised an inter-GMS trade and investment workshop and study
Mingsheng, UNESCAP’s Chinese representative in Thailand, delivering his
opening address at the Mekong Institute in Khon Kaen October 13 to the 21
participants from GMS countries.
The event, which focused on trade and investment opportunities in the
Greater Mekong Sub-region, took place October 12-23, both in Khon Kaen and
along region 3a’s North-South Economic Corridor, and involved 21
participants from the GMS countries. Funding was provided by the Yunnan
Diao Mingsheng, UNESCAP’s Chinese representative, stated in his opening
address that “trade is a powerful engine for economic development, and may
generate benefits in poverty reduction by export expansion, as well as
contributing to the achievement of the United Nations’ Millennium
Development goals.” He further said that “with the progressive elimination
of tariff barriers, the facilitation of trade plays an increasingly
important role in its expansion. Non-tariff barriers, along with cumbersome,
costly and time-consuming trade procedures and formalities constitute major
obstacles for developing countries to expand trade and investment in the
region, especially against the background of global financial crisis.”
UNESCAP, with China’s cooperation, will explore ways to continue
construction of the North-South Economic Corridor, regarded by China as
having great benefits. According to Diao, GMS countries need to make
concerted efforts to speed up the construction process, with the cooperation
of the Chinese government and other international organisations.
The chairman of Khon Kaen Chamber of Commerce, Suraphol Thaveesangsakulthai,
stated that Khon Kaen, as the commercial centre of North Eastern Thailand,
has a high economic and investment potential and is a key driver of the
The Thai government has endorsed Khon Kaen as the export centre for trade
within the Indo-Chinese region. Suraphol added that he believed the workshop
would benefit the sub-region in terms of sustainable trade and investment
Bhoj Raj Khanal, the Mekong Institute’s research manager, said that
inter-GMS trade and investment is an essential and highly important issue.
With MI’s new intergovernmental status, it is in a very favorable position
to facilitate regional development, cooperation and integration through its
human resource development programs, GMS-focused research, and policy
Participants from China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam attended the
workshop, the purpose of which was to enhance the development of regional
trade and investment and give participants first-hand experience on
inter/intra-trade and investment in the GMS North-South Economic Corridor.
Sore feet and a good result
The Croston House sponsored walk comes home
Glenn and Rosjana Croston
celebrate their successful trip
at The Pub on Huay Kaew Road.
Forty-three days and some 1,230 kilometers from their starting point
in Banglamung, Chonburi, on September 5, Glenn and Rosjana Croston finally
completed their sponsored walk and returned shortly before 3 p.m. on October
17 to the children at Croston House Children’s Home.
Glenn, who walked over a thousand and fifty kilometers for the cause,
averaged around twenty-eight kilometers a day with just five days off for
good behaviour, in an attempt to raise two million baht for his foundation.
The money, when raised, will be used to purchase transport to take the
children to school and on outings, and to buy land on which a permanent and
purpose-built children’s home can be established in Lamphun province.
Sleeping primarily in their car, with the back seats removed, or in a tent
in service stations, temples and police stations, Glenn and Rosjana
travelled through some fifteen provinces of central and Northern Thailand to
arrive home to a warm welcome from the twenty-seven children currently
residing at the foundation. Their own three children, Frankie (8), Anya (7)
and Rosie (2) were thrilled to see them as well.
Earlier in the day, they and all the children had visited Driessen Aircraft
Interior Systems’s premises on Lamphun’s Northern Region Industrial Estate,
where the children were hosted for lunch and Glenn was presented with
donations totalling 5,980 baht raised by the company’s staff. The following
evening, a charity night was held at The Pub in Chiang Mai, with another
4,000 baht being added to the coffers.
Although it’s unlikely that they will reach their target after just one
event, despite their best efforts to attract sponsorship over the last six
months, they both feel that it was a worthwhile experience that has
certainly raised the profile of the foundation both in Thailand and abroad.
Further fund-raising events are being planned; if you would like to help
Glenn and Rosjana give the children in their care the opportunity of a
brighter future, you can contact them at [email protected] yahoo.com, on
086-385-7118 (English) or on 089-757-3255 (Thai). For more information about
the foundation, please visit their website www. crostonhousechildrenshome
A Taste of Peru - Unusual, delicious and much appreciated
Mom Luang Preeyapun, the host
of the Peruvian evening,
presenting flowers to the organisers.
Earlier this month, October 18, in her role as Honorary Consul for
Peru in Chiang Mai, Mom Luang Preeyapun hosted an excellent evening at D2
Hotel’s Moxie Restaurant.
The evening began with a cocktail hour, enabling guests at the “sold out”
event to meet, greet, network, mingle and generally gossip. Pisco Sours
seemed to be the most popular drink, generously provided by Thomas E.
Fernandez from Iceburg Company, who supplied all the evening’s refreshments.
Most of the guests had never tasted Peruvian food before –the curiosity
factor proved very attractive!
In her welcoming speech M.L. Preeyapun explained that there are two aspects
which converge to give Peruvian cuisine its unique character. The first is
the enormous biodiversity of Peru, home to some 80 types of the world’s 104
differing biological zones, which assures an amazing assortment of fresh
ingredients. Potatoes, Peru’s legacy to the world, and hot pepper are both
originally from the Andes, fish and seafood abound in the Pacific Ocean,
mangoes and limes grow in the coastal valleys, and bananas originate from
the Amazon basin. A chef’s only problem is an over -abundance of choice!
Secondly, Peruvian cuisine represents the quintessence of cultural fusion.
Ever since the first blending between Inca and Spanish traditions, local
cooks have happily incorporated the flavours and techniques of the many
immigrants from Africa, China and Japan who disembarked at the country’s
At the end of her speech, M.L. Preeyapun introduced the chef for the
evening, a Peruvian national, Yaquir Sato Matsuoka, who owns the famous
Castanera 700 restaurant in Lima, started by his father Humberto Sato more
than 25 years ago. The restaurant has long set standards for the intuitive
and successful fusion of Peruvian and Japanese culinary traditions, with
Humberto’s skills being passed on his to his son.
After the introductions and the obligatorily toast with Pisco Sour, the
guests converged on the buffet. There was so much choice, it was difficult
to decide where to start. Guests included both of the Chiang Mai Mail’s food
critics; one of whom, Brian Baxter, remarked that, “Sadly, never having
visited Peru, I was in the same situation as most of the guests as regards
my ignorance of its cuisine. However, thanks to the guest chef and the
impeccable quality of the ingredients, the meal was at least on a level and
possibly even better than D2’s three recent ‘regional’ successes (Japanese,
Mediterranean and Mexican). The range of food was enormous. Fellow diners
especially praised the turkey and the pork chops. The fish dishes, featuring
prawn and tuna, were also greatly admired. My personal highlight was the
salad bar with its surrounding delicacies, plus the wines and a taste of the
Peruvian national drink.”
The atmosphere in the crowded but never oppressive dining area was friendly
and relaxed, providing yet another triumph for Moxie’s and certainly for the
Peruvian organisers. Another guest and his table companions enjoyed the
food, but mentioned that, as there were no translations provided, they had
no idea what they were eating! Which at least made for some interesting
conversations between diners. Again, the salads were mentioned as combining
zing, freshness and subtle flavours, and the rice dish, the superb fish and
“jolly old turkey” were much enjoyed, as was the (possibly) pork dish. The
desserts were praised and the ingredients appreciated as being of Peruvian
origin, and at least one person at that table admitted to eating 6 different
“puddings,” all washed down by Chilean wines! Altogether, an unusual
culinary experience highly appreciated by all.
If you want to make an event that little bit more special, invite
[email protected] chiangmai-mail.com.
Exhibition of antique French ephemera related to King Rama V
An unusual exhibition will take place at the library of
Mae Jo University, opening at 1 p.m., October 30. Exhibits have been
selected from a private Chiang Mai collection of mainly French antique
ephemera and books on various aspects of the life of His Majesty King
Chulalongkorn the Great. The exhibition will be open to the public from 9.30
a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily until November 13, and it is expected that some of
the exhibits will be auctioned next year to raise money for the
Thailandfreunde e.V. human rights organization.
Don’t Miss in October and November!
Friday October 31
Beelzebub’s Halloween Hullabaloo at the Artspace Factory on Kamphaengdin
Soi 3. From 9 p.m. until midnight. Live performance from Alchemy Pops Band.
Tickets available 250 baht in advance or 400 baht on the door. For further
information contact Laura 085-622-6607.
Saturday November 1
‘Cancer Care Family Day’ Charity Run at Huay Tung Tao Reservoir. A great
way to recover from the parties the night before! In aid of Queen Sirikit
Centre for Breast Cancer and the Thai Red Cross. Registration to run begins
at 7 a.m., with the race itself starting at 8 a.m. 250 baht per adult and
180 baht per child under 13 include a free T-shirt and a breakfast box.
Tuesday November 11
Remembrance Day at Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery on Chiangmai/Lamphun Road
in memory of all those who gave their lives in war in the service of their
countries. The service will commence at 10.45 a.m. with a two minute silence
at 11 a.m.
Saturday November 22
Foundation for the Education of Rural Children (FERC) will hold its
annual fund-raising party entitled ‘Let Us Entertain You’ at the Shangri La
Hotel on Changklan Road. The evening’s entertainment will feature the
musical talents of Tangerine Blue and a backup chorus of ten local singers,
and will showcase music from some of the most popular Broadway musicals, old
and new. Tickets are 1,000 baht per person and will include wine, hors
d’oeuvres prepared by the Shangri La chefs plus homemade desserts. There
will be auctions and raffles during the evening.
Tickets can be obtained from any FERC board member or by contacting www.
Saturday November 29
Winter Dreams Charity party at the beautiful Rati Lanna Riverside Spa
Resort (the former Sofitel), Chiang Mai, on Changklan Road. Wear white and
gold for the “Best looking Beautiful Couple” competition. Dancing, Music,
Fine food, Wheel of Fortune, Silent Auction and many raffle prizes await
every guest. Entrance 999 baht. Proceeds to support orphans in the Grandma
Cares.Org under the New Life Foundation for Development of Children’s Fund.
Tickets from: Somboon Suprasert, Tel 053-801-252; Hope Watcharaprecha, Tel
053-262-691, 053-240-822; Margaret Bhadungzong, Tel 053-247-083,
Piang Luang – A community with a message?
There has been much talk recently of Thailand as a developing
country along 21st century Western-based lines. Conversely, here in Chiang
Mai, there has been equally as much talk of returning to traditional
meanings of festivals, and the values of Lanna life. Perhaps a report of a
border village where settlement by minorities, ethnic groups and mainstream
populations has been going on for centuries, may bring a sense of
perspective to these ongoing debates.
Piang Luang village, on the borders of Thailand and Burma, is a community
comprised of ethnic minorities, living together with descendants of the
ancestors of the Thai people, known as the Tai Yai, who arrived from
southern China via the Shan State (now in Burma) centuries ago and are now
the majority residents of Piang Luang. Another ethnic group is comprised of
former fighters for the Kuomintang, the Chinese nationalist army who,
defeated by Mao Tse-Tung’s Chinese Communist forces, fled to the south of
the country, crossing from Yunnan province into the Shan state and thence to
Piang Luang. Northern Thai groups live there as well, alongside ethnic Lisu
and Paduang tribespeople. In the past, Piang Luang represented true
community, with people living peacefully and developing together, culturally
and socially, each group respecting the difference and diversity of their
fellow groups, and all having arrived in Piang Luang as refugees from
hardship, deprivation, displacement and, more often than not, armed
The village now comprises more than 1,000 households, with, until recently,
livelihood, language and culture and tradition passing from old to young
throughout the generations. Traditional-style Tai houses built on high
stilts were seen everywhere, and traditional dress was often worn. In the
past, a simple, peaceful community, cut off during the rainy season.
Nowadays with an asphalt access road, electricity and modern shops selling
everything from satellite dishes through mobile phones to clothes and
motorcycles. The language of all, whatever their ethnic origin, is still
The arrival of the Kuomintang Chinese, however, had brought some friction
into the community, with the Yunnanese considering that they were more
educated and economically secure; since then, divisions have formed between
Tais and Chinese, resulting in residential separation of the groups. The
Thai government’s treatment of the Tai as stateless is also responsible for
a strong sense of insecurity, with Tai villagers preferring to avoid
prejudice by wearing lowland dress when they go to market in nearby towns.
Another problem relates to the closure of a nearby border post, which
brought an end to cross-border trade. Many job losses have resulted and,
concurrent with an increase in population, young people are leaving the area
to find work in Chiang Mai and other large northern cities. The conservation
of Tai culture and tradition has suffered as a result.
An almost ideal situation is, therefore, turning into a microcosm of the
macrocosm which is affecting countries worldwide, as well as Thailand
itself, but, because it involves a small community, the effects are obvious,
even if no-one takes any steps to reverse them. As youngsters, we all seek
new horizons, often finding, as we grow older, that on arrival in a
“promised land,” that it’s already been promised to someone else! The crux
of this small community’s changing values and the loss of lifestyle and
culture that results is that its most precious asset, a sense of community
and of safety within that community, is the first thing to go. Modernity and
“convenience” in the 21st century sense, may well be proven, in the future,
to have been a poor exchange. Perhaps we should all remember that.
Thai villagers train
to defend their homeland
In the wake of the Thai-Cambodian border skirmish near
the ancient Preah Vihear temple, village defence volunteers in Thailand’s
border province of Si Sa Ket have undergone basic military training to help
guard their villages.
Men in Phumsarol, a small village in Kantharak district, are practicing
basic military training, to provide security for their villages following
the October 15 firefight on the Thai-Cambodian border. These defence
volunteers have been trained by Thai Second Region Army officials to use
weapons, to patrol around the disputed area, and to report the latest
situation to the military.
“We are backed up by these extra teams of volunteers. We give them advice.
If there is something unusual, they will immediately inform us,” said the
Chief of Public Relations at the Second Region Army, Second Lieutenant
This is not the first time residents in Phumsarol village, bordering
Cambodia, have taken on defensive action to protect their community and
sovereignty. Back in the 1960s, some were trained during the Communist
insurgency in Thailand and also during the fighting amongst Khmer Rouge and
other factions in Cambodia more than 20 years ago.
One volunteer involved in this mission expressed his feelings toward the
latest military confrontation. “I think the ferocity of violence on Oct 15
was less severe than the fighting in the period of the Cambodia Civil War in
the 1970s and the stream of communism in Thailand. The villagers are
panicking less,” said Pling Mathong, village defence volunteer at Phumsarol
village. Although the latest skirmish along the border of the neighbouring
countries seems less violent compared to the past, the people of the two
countries still hope their leaders can find a peaceful solution to end the
dispute soon. (TNA)
Beware email address
and address book hackers!
If you haven’t got really strong firewalls and anti-virus software
on your computer, now’s the time to invest! If you don’t, you may find your
self, as did a friend of mine last week, spending several days online
reassuring everyone in your address book that you don’t need their money!
This all began when the email below, from a friend’s email address, was
received – by everyone in my friend’s Yahoo address book – including me!
Reading it through (and knowing that my friend was here in town), I was left
with the feeling that unless the recipient was a native English speaker, he
or she might be tempted to try to help. Sure enough, a kind Thai mutual
friend who had received the same email contacted me to ask if he could help.
Good guy! Disillusioned guy, several minutes later! It eventually became
apparent that a Vientiane university friend of my friend had been hacked in
the same manner two weeks ago. His email address had been stolen along with
many others. How the hacker got his Yahoo address book is another matter.
The email text is below – read, learn and protect! Names have been omitted
to protect the innocent!
How’s work on your end? This has had to come in a hurry and it has left
me in a devastating state. These people won’t even allow people write in
native dialects. I am in some terrible situation and I’m really going to
need your urgent help. Yesterday, unannounced, I came to visit a new
researchers’ complex in London, Imperial College London, Gallery Section,
(South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ), England. Well we actually got
robbed in the Hotel I booked in and they made away with my wallet (which
included my cash, diaries and credit cards). My cell phones were not brought
along since I did not get to roam them before coming over. The phone cables
have been burnt including internet connection cables and the Hotel’s
database has been compromised as well. So all I can do now is pay cash and
get out of here quickly. I do not want to make a scene of this which is why
I did not call the office or my house, this is embarrassing enough. Please I
want you to lend me a sum of £1,670, just to clear my Hotel bills and get
the next plane home. The Consulate only cleared me of my travelling
documents and ticketing since I came in as a tourist and not on official
purpose. I shall have your money reimbursed immediately on my return. I’ll
be waiting on you at the Hotel lobby for your mail. I look forward to
hearing from you soon.