Ministers of State check progress at Ratchapruek Royal Flora
Thai cabinet ministers and the head of the Chart Thai Party made a
brief visit to Chiang Mai on October 20 to check on the progress of the
upcoming Royal Flora Exhibition to be held as part of the Birthday
celebrations for His Majesty the King on December 5.
Coalition Chart Thai Party leader Banyan Silapa-archa, Somsak
Prisanananthakul, the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and Weerasak
Kowwasurat, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, were briefed by Royal
Ratchapruek Garden’s management on the use of the land and management
procedures as well as the progress of construction of the International
Exhibition and Conference Hall.
All three stated that, in their opinion, the work was progressing
satisfactorily, and was expected to be finished on time. The gardening
contractors are planning to show 700,000 trees and plants, of which number
approximately 130,000 have been planted so far. Refurbishment of the site
and its buildings is also well under way, and expected to be completed by
the time of the official opening.
It is expected that total tourist revenue from the exhibition will top 1,000
Hang Dong textile
and jewellery museum gives glimpse into
Lan Chang culture
A small museum in Hang Dong, Chiang Mai, focuses on ancient silks
and jewellery from the time of Lan Chang dynasty, ancient rulers in Luang
Prabang. Visitors have the opportunity to study and learn about Lan Chang
culture, its artisan lifestyle, and its spiritual beliefs.
Soimala na Champasak, showing her antique silk clothes and textiles.
A direct descendent of the Lan Chang rulers, Chao Soimala na Champasak, was
given permission by the family to offer the artefacts in the museum as a
rare chance for visitors to be able to study her dynastic inheritance.
The museum contains many ancient textiles, including Buddhist silks, gold
and silver-embroidered fabrics, shoulder cloths, and a breast cloth
belonging to Chao Soimala’s ancestor, Chao Yamkhamphang, as well as
jewellery, hairpins and other ornaments.
Visitors will be able to purchase textiles and jewellery, with a 200
year-old hairpin costing 50,000 baht, and items of antique jewellery costing
from as little as 10,000 baht up to 200,000 baht. Antique textiles will cost
from 600 baht up to 100,000 baht. The income from sales will be given to the
needy, with an amount reserved for Chaimongkol Temple in Lampang and another
amount for the sponsorship of Phapa ceremonies at other temples. Donations
will also be given to funds for Buddhist study and used to buy clothes for
Those who wish to visit the museum should first call on 053-832-854,
081-472-9039, or 083-470-818. The location is 103, Moo 2, Baan Nong Soi, Soi
4, Harn Kaew, Hang Dong, close to the front gate of North Chiang Mai
offensive plans to wipe out Karenni
Reports suggest that the Burmese Army is in the early stages of an
offensive intended to wipe out ethnic minority groups located along the
Burmese-Thai border. Newly purchased and sophisticated Russian weaponry is
reported to have been issued for use against Karenni soldiers located at a
base close to Ban Mae Suay in Mae Hong Son. Thai Army commanders are
monitoring the situation as, according to a Karenni leader, fighting is
expected to break out in the location.
Maj. Gen. Bee Tu, the leader of the Karenni National Progressive Party
(KNPP), has reported that information received indicates that attacks by the
Burmese military have already occurred at a base in Doi Luang, and that
several nearby bases were under threat. The information confirmed that the
Burmese 135th Battalion had fired shots from a 60mm rocket launcher in order
to determine the strength of the Karenni resistance.
The Special Unit of the Thai Army’s 17th Infantry’s Naresuan Task Force is
monitoring the situation, and a planned visit by the KNPP to a Thai Army
base located close to Doi Luang has been cancelled.
Explosion in fireworks
factory kills owner
The site of the small firework factory,
pictured after the explosion which killed its owner, Nipon Inkham.
An explosion in a small fireworks factory in Saraphi district
destroyed the building, damaged a house 100 metres away, and caused minor
injuries to a neighbour and the death of the owner, Nipon Inkham.
According to Nipon’s wife, Puangtong Inkham, 54, her husband had been
working on a large Loy Krathong firecracker order when the explosion
occurred. She had immediately called the police, but her husband had later
died as a result of his injuries. Police are investigating whether the
fireworks factory was licensed.
Chiang Rai disaster relief office allocates 50 million baht emergency fund
Chiang Rai’s Office of Natural Disaster Relief and Prevention has
allocated the sum of 50 million baht for emergency situations, and is
assessing the need for disaster relief in mountainous areas during the
approaching cool season.
Out of 18 districts at risk in the province, Wiang Pa Pao and Tueng
districts have already requested 30,000 blankets, and, because of present
problems caused by high humidity due to persistent downpours, have also
requested accurate and up to date weather forecasts. Several Chiang Rai
districts are already experiencing cool winds. 20,000 blankets are being
donated by government and private organisations across the Kingdom; more
donations are being sought in order to deal with the expected worsening of
Public Health inspectors continue to check for melamine contamination
Following reports by the Thai Food and Drug Administration of
high levels of melamine being found in Malaysian manufactured desserts
and cheese sandwiches, Chiang Mai Public Health inspectors visited local
markets and supermarkets, including the wholesaler Makro’s Hang Dong
branch, whose managers stated that they had already returned a quantity
of the contaminated products to the manufacturers.
Shops on Charoen Prathet Road were also inspected, due to their
proximity to schools, but no contaminated products were found. There is
still concern about more than 7 foreign manufactured products with
similar brand names and types to the Malaysian products. Shopkeepers who
are found to still be stocking the products will be subject to fines and
imprisonment according to the law.
Chiang Rai tree-planting marks HM the King’s 84th Birthday
One thousand people, led by Lt. Gen. Thanongsak Apirakyothin of
the Thai 3rd Army, recently planted trees and constructed check dams in
the mountainous watershed area of the Kok River along the Thai-Burmese
border in Chiang Rai province. The area is protected, and was once a
well-known route for cross-border drug smugglers.
The event, held to mark the 84th birthday of His Majesty the King, was
attended by several famous Thai singers, which encouraged many
volunteers to join in. Lt. Gen. Thanonksak stated that the aim of the
event was to prevent global warming, to instil environmental awareness
in the general public, and to discourage deforestation activities. He
added that, “The main weapon against deforestation has to be the local
administration authority, the closest government agent to the people
themselves. Officials are aware of investors who engage in this
activity, and will be supported by soldiers from the 3rd Army region in
its eradication in order to protect the precious forest environment.” A
variety of trees were provided for the occasion by the Ministry of
Natural Resources’ 15th Conservation Area Administration Office.
The area, Baan Huay Keed in Chiang Rai’s Muang district, is now being
used as a Buddhist meditation retreat after the establishment there of
Phra Khru Wibul Thamtecho, the abbot of Doi Intree Buddhist Park and Doi
Kong Khao temple. Monks and Buddhist meditators have also been planting
trees and building dams in the immediate area.
Phrae police intercept drug traffickers, confiscate 136,000 amphetamine pills
Phrae police have arrested two drug traffickers and blocked a
major drugs haul from being transported from the Chiang Rai border area
Villagers had reported to police that a man had been seen getting down
from a pick-up truck 300 metres from a manned police checkpoint in Ban
Huayrai on the Denchai-Uttaradit road, saying that they had been alerted
by his nervous manner. The truck was stopped at the checkpoint and the
driver, Chaiwat Mahikee, 30, was arrested. It was reported that the
other man, Thanachai, a member of the Akha hill tribe, had disappeared
through a cemetery into a forest area, but had been traced by villagers
and officers and arrested in possession of a bag containing 136,000 yaba
pills, worth more than 20 million baht.
During questioning, Thanachai admitted to possession of the illegal
drugs, saying that the delivery was his first, and that he was being
paid 700,000 baht to transport them from Mae Sai to a dealer in Bangkok.
He also stated that he had not yet received the payment.
Chiang Mai and Bangkok rated “Best Asian Cities” in Conde Nast survey
The leading upmarket USA travel and lifestyle magazine, Conde
Nast Traveller, has rated Chiang Mai and Bangkok as the best cities in
Asia, based on the results of its 20th annual “Readers’ Choice” survey.
Bangkok narrowly beat Chiang Mai, with a score of 82% against Chiang
The magazine has a readership of 3.1 million; poll results take into
consideration atmosphere, ambience, culture, historical and other sites,
friendliness, accommodation, restaurants and shopping. The actual scores
represent the averaging of the number of “excellent” ratings received
The presentation of the coveted awards took place earlier this month at
the Readers Choice Awards 2008 Ceremony & Gala Dinner held in New York.
Weerasak Kowsurat, the Thai Minister of Tourism & Sports, accepted the
award on behalf of the entire Thai travel and tourism industry. Phuket
and Koh Samui were also ranked, coming 3rd and 6th on Conde Nast’s list
of “Best islands in Asia,” with Thai Airways receiving a mention as no.
7 in the list of the top 25 airlines. Tourists, please note!
Burmese immigrants evicted from illegal forest land settlements
Reports that a new community of Burmese immigrants had moved
into the lower regions of Mae Pai National Park, Mae Hong Son, resulted
in a raid by border patrol police, army and territorial volunteers,
during which 30 Burmese were arrested and charged with illegally
occupying forest land without permission.
A recently erected settlement comprising 60 households was found at Ban
Huay Pok Jan, within the confines of the park’s conservation area. The
development was in breach of the Forestry Act B.E. 1941 and the National
Parks Act B.E. 1964, and had raised concerns about damage to the park’s
protected environment similar to those caused by a previous group of 100
immigrants who had moved to the area in 2003. At that time, officials
had ignored the settlement, which had resulted in the ecology of over
1,000 rai of forest land being compromised.
Several further Burmese immigrant communities have been noted in areas
behind Mae Hong Son’s City Hall. A settlement of 1,000 persons
established 500 metres behind the building has been largely ignored by
officials, leading to difficulties in finding a resolution.
Thai Minister of Culture promotes sale of phallic amulets to tourists
Worawat Ua-apinyakul, Thailand’s Minister of Culture, in a bold
attempt to stimulate spending amongst tourists, is suggesting that
amulets associated with Brahmanism and magic (possibly of the darker
form), rather than the more usual Buddhist versions, be sold mounted on
key chains to curious tourists. Worawat particularly favours
phallus-shaped amulets, together with those depicting buffalos, and also
suggests that manufacturers should provide certificates of authenticity
to reassure purchasers that their products have been properly made. The
phallus-shaped Palad Khik is considered amongst local people to protect
against danger; the Kwai (buffalo) Tanoo is believed to be a
strength-enhancer. The minister insists that these, and others similar,
should be regarded as cultural products and considers his idea to be
unprecedented enough for it to be accepted without derision. He also
suggests that the legends behind the traditional amulets should be
publicised as they might then inspire big-budget movies, which would be
made, hopefully, in Thailand.
More conventionally, the recently-appointed minister is suggesting using
cultural ambassadors to invite trade, investment and, of course,
tourism, to the Kingdom, and is planning to cooperate with the Ministry
of Education to focus on local wisdom and tradition. Using a legend from
his own province of Phrae as an example, he notes that, “The romantic
Phra Lor folk tale, properly publicised, could well make Phrae province
a holiday destination for couples in love.”
Mae Hong Son welcoming ceremonies kick-starts tourist season
Mae Hong Son recently hosted a welcoming ceremony for visitors
to the tiny Northern province, aimed at giving the tourist season a
much-needed kick-start. Booking for the 2008/2009 season are already
showing signs of an increase over last year.
Local people wearing Tai Yai costume provided an added attraction at the
ceremony, held on October 17 at Mae Hong’s airport for visitors who had
arrived on Thai Airways flight TG 190 from Chiang Mai. Thongchai
Wongrianthong, the Governor of the province, accompanied by
representatives of local tour companies and other officials, presided
over drinks and refreshments and supervised the presenting of badges and
Buatong flowers to the new arrivals, whilst Tai Yai traditional cultural
performances aroused great interest and enjoyment. A similar event was
held simultaneously at the local bus terminal.
The majority of advance bookings in Mae Hong Song are expected to have
come from visitors who are looking for natural beauty and traditional
lifestyles, focusing on the area’s many ethnic groups.
Chiang Mai to host ASEAN summit due to security concerns
Following a 2 day Asia-Europe meeting in Beijing last week,
the14th ASEAN Summit, originally planned to take place in Bangkok from
December 14 to 18, has been relocated to Chiang Mai due to security
concerns caused by the ongoing political unrest. The organisers of the
summit, which will involve the 10 ASEAN countries of Vietnam, Thailand,
Singapore, the Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia
and Brunei, have authorised the move as a result of concerns about the
likelihood of a further outbreak of violence in Bangkok during the
event. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the heads of the World Bank and
the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have been invited to join a special
session aimed at finding ways to mitigate the effects in the region of
the global financial crisis.
Bahrain school’s charity project for Lahu hill tribe children
Students and teachers at a Bahrain school are planning to travel
to Chiang Rai at the beginning of December to help disadvantaged hill
tribe students by building a classroom and medical room at their school.
The 33 student volunteers from St. Christopher’s Senior School, together
with 4 of their teachers, will also take time to teach English to Thai
children between 3 and 11 years old.
St. Christopher’s students in the 16-18 year age group have been raising
money for the construction of the new rooms at Ban Huaymuang School by
means of a 160 kilometre relay swim, and will, under the supervision of
the 4 teachers, help with the build itself. Last year, 28 students made
the trip, helping to build a cafeteria at the same school.
Geography head Steve Martin, whose department organises the projects,
said that the aim of the trip was to have the students become aware of
the unique geography in Ban Huaymuang’s immediate area, to give of their
time and effort freely to children far less fortunate than themselves
and to experience the differing lifestyles and needs of hill tribe
people in northern Thailand. It is also hoped that St. Christopher’s
will be able to maintain its contact with these Lahu children over the
years in order to improve their quality of life, even to the extent of
being able to support talented youngsters in their studies at Chiang Mai
Thai Airways and TAT hold reception for visiting media and travel agents
A reception was held recently at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara
Dhevi in Chiang Mai by Thai Airways International (THAI), led by Pandit
Chanapai, the THAI commercial department’s executive vice-president, to
welcome overseas media and travel agents as part of a “Thailand
Invitation” familiarisation trip. The trip, co-hosted by Thai Airways
and the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT), was planned as part of a
drive to boost tourism in the Kingdom and to publicise TAT’s “7 wonders
of amazing Thailand” promotion. Guests of honour at the reception
included Wanchai Sarathulthat, TAT’s president, Chuchart Geelapang, the
deputy governor of Chiang Mai, Santichai Euachongprasit, TAT’s deputy
governor of international marketing, and Mom Luang Ajcharaporn na
Songkhla, THAI’s director of corporate communications.
Thai Airlines to operate between Chiang Mai and Udon Thani
Thai Airways International will operate a new route between
Chiang Mai and Udon Thani, beginning October 26 with a one-way
promotional fare of 1,305 baht. According to Pandit Chanapai, the
airline’s executive vice-president, the service is expected to provide a
convenient and comfortable journey for both business travellers and
tourists. A daily flight from Chiang Mai will operate, using a 66 seat
ATR 7. The outbound flight, TG181, will depart from CNX at 8.05,
arriving in Udon Thani at 9.25. An inbound flight, TG182, will depart
Udon Thani at 09.50, arriving at CMX at 11.10.
Chiang Mai Photographic
Group’s first exhibition
Jon Glendinning, the Honorary British Consul, will open the
Chiang Mai Photographic Group’s first exhibition of members’ work at
Northern Village on the 2nd floor of Central Airport Plaza at 5 p.m. on
Saturday, November 1. This diverse collection of arresting images from
all over Asia celebrates the group’s first birthday and illustrates that
there’s a lot more to be photographed than the usual fare of temples,
hill tribes and sunsets! Fifty or so contributions by members hailing
from more than half a dozen countries using equipment ranging from
simple point-and-shoot cameras to the latest digital SLRs will quickly
convince you that it’s a keen eye for the picture that counts. Also
featured in the show is “Faces of Asia,” a selection of memorable
portraits in black and white. Many pictures featured in the exhibition
are available for sale through Northern Village. The exhibition will run
from November 1 through November 9 and will be open from 11 a.m. to
The Chiang Mai Photography Group meets on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. every
fortnight in Tuskers Bar. All those with an interest in photography, be
it film or digital, are warmly invited. For details of meeting dates,
please visit www.cmpg .igroops.com; for more information, please contact
Wyndham Hollis on 085-121-7414 or email on wyndham @wyndhamhollis.com.
Meetings are conducted in English.