OUR COMMUNITY
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

SKÅL’s monthly meeting at the Vernada High Resort

Count Gerald’s Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation launched

Imm Eco Hostel opens in downtown Chiang Mai

Loy Krathong Yee Peng festival 2008

Don’t Miss

Tamarind Village hosts a Chilean wine dinner

New tourist initiative includes Ratchapruek’s December exposition

CEC holds its first “open meeting” since its inception

SKÅL’s monthly meeting at the Vernada High Resort

SKÅL members at the Vernada High Resort during their monthly dinner.

George Powell
The Vernada High Resort in Ban Pong, Hang Dong, was the venue for the latest of Skål’s monthly dinners, held on October 30. A record-breaking 91 guests attended, with the entire committee being put on stand-by to welcome the arrivals! Efficient as always, Hon.Sec. Mohamad Jesr, who fine-tuned the event, had alerted committee members to the growing number of attendees, so members and guests were greeted warmly as they arrived.
Cocktails were served in the bar area. Unfortunately it was, by then, dark, and guests were unable to enjoy the beautiful views for which the resort is famous. The drinks and conversation, and meeting and greeting, however, helped to ameliorate their disappointment.
The evening’s guest of honour was Chalermsak Suranant, the “Chiang Mai home town boy,” who recently returned from Hong Kong to take up his position as TAT director for the northern region. Other guests included Mom Luang Preeyapun Sridhavat in her capacity of Honorary Peruvian Consul to Chiang Mai and the North.
After cocktails, dinner was served, as a buffet rather than a sit-down meal due to the large number of guests. Prior to tucking in, Anchalee Kalmapijit, Skål’s Madame President, presented Chalermsak with honorary membership of SKÅL, and congratulated Toby Allen and Pakin Ploywaen, whose Oasis Spas in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Pattaya, have just won Thailand’s Tourism Award 2008. New members were introduced, including Jaffee Yee, Nima Chandler, Jessica Mauer and Khaetthaleeya Uppakham. Judging by the number of emails that Anchalee received the following day, it was a very successful event, and one to be remembered. For further details about SKÅL and the next meeting, please visit www. skalchiangmai.com.

 

Count Gerald’s Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation launched

Elena Edwards
On October 29th, in collaboration with Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz, H.E. Jan Matthysen, the Belgian Ambassador to Thailand, hosted an elegant cocktail party at his residence in Bangkok. The event took place on the occasion of the launch of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation, based in Chiang Rai. The party was also an opportunity for Count Gerald to present the Thai version of his book: ‘Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, General Advisor of H.M. King Chulalongkorn,’ which deals with his family’s long and distinguished relationship with the Kingdom. The party was attended by over 200 distinguished guests from Bangkok society, including Privy Counsellor M.R. Thepkamol Devakula, together with ambassadors and representatives of the corporate world.

Thaanit Vajarodaya, Somjai Sasomsarp, Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz, Wilaiwan Phiriyakrit, Governor of Chiang Rai Trisit Sinsomboonthong and Sansanee Sitapan-Moller, with 3 students of the foundation holding the books.

If it is a coincidence that brought Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz to Thailand 7 years ago, it was only the first of a long series of coincidences. It was on Chiang Rai that Count Gerald found out that an ancestor of his grandmother’s family on his father’s side, had been the general advisor of King Rama V. Another coincidence was that when King Rama V was in Belgium in 1897 on a royal visit, his great-grand father on his mother’s side, had made portraits of the King. Two extraordinary coincidences – two ancestors, from both sides of Count Gerald’s family, connected at different levels with the King of Siam. So, a book was born. A book reuniting the two ancestors through a common descendant, uniting art with history, and sealing the long lasting friendly relationship between the kingdoms of Thailand and Belgium.
Count Gerald’s beautiful coffee-table book “Chao Phya Abhai Raja Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns, General Advisor of H.M. King Chulalongkorn” was edited in English in 2007 and has now been edited in the Thai version. However, this new limited edition of 1,500 copies is not for sale, as was the case with the previous English edition. It will only be offered in exchange for donations of 3,000 baht to the new Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation, now officially launched.
For some years, Count Gerald has devoted much of his time to help society. After having made Chiang Rai his base, he involved himself in creating innovative charity projects to the benefit of the most disadvantaged students in the province, mostly from the local hill tribe villages. Together with the Rotary Club of Maechan he initiated successful artistic and musical projects, such as the Hill Tribe Violin Band, the Sindoi Ceramic Project, the Hill Tribe Magicians, all with the ultimate goal of creating revenues for the students and making them independent in life.
The Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation has been created in order to continue with these activities, and to better structure the help provided to the students with the aim of opening even more doors to the world for the most disadvantaged.
Besides its primary goals of helping the poorest students, the foundation aims at transmitting the values of Chao Phya Abhai Raja to the younger generation. Values of honesty, trust, hard work and respect. It is also hoped that the activities of the foundation will keep the memory of the work and achievements of Chao Phya Abhai Raja alive forever. The foundation is based at Insii Thai House in Maechan, Chiang Rai province.


Imm Eco Hostel opens in downtown Chiang Mai

Andy Archer
A very different kind of accommodation is now open in Chiang Mai, under the Imperial Mai Ping brand, but with a new and very “now” focus. The Imm Eco Hostel, which enjoyed its official opening on November 2, is taking the “eco” part of its name very seriously, offering value-for-money accommodation on a beautiful site on Bumrangraj Road, comprising 7 rai of mature gardens. During the conversion of the 70 year-old Thai-colonial main building, the other buildings, and the landscaping of the plot, great care was taken not to disturb even one of the lychee, longan and coconut palm trees in the grounds. The gardens themselves were beautifully laid out, designed by Dr. Nirwat Tantayanusorn, Ph.D., with hanging and climbing ferns in place to give shade to reduce the heat in the adjoining rooms.
The opening ceremony and entertainment, organised by JOE Consulting, began with guests being invited to tour the main building itself, which was previously used as a kindergarten, after which eco-friendly games were set up in the gardens. The main event was the reception, which took place around the swimming pool, and was graced by Chalermsak Suranant, the director of TAT’s Northern region, and Songvit Ittpatanakul, the president of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association. The hostel’s staff, carrying through with the “eco” theme of both the event and the hostel itself, all wore badges reading, “I can make a difference for a better world tomorrow.”
Accommodation available includes several categories, from Dormitory through the Classroom House to the Octagon and the Common House, with prices ranging from 250 baht per bed with an additional 150 baht for single occupancy of a room. A TV room and library, an internet café and a coffee shop serving at reasonable prices are all available; for those who cannot bear to be parted from their laptops, there is also wireless internet throughout the buildings.
For further information or reservations contact www. immhotel.com or [email protected] immhotel.com. If you would like to make your event that little bit more special contact [email protected]


Loy Krathong Yee Peng festival 2008

Andy Archer
 This year’s Loy Krathong 2008 festival in Chiang Mai is officially scheduled to run for four days, from November 10 through to November 13 inclusive. Apart from the Grand Opening of Loy Krathong Yee Peng 2008 between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., there will be a children’s beauty contest, Lanna music performances which will continue for the full 4 days, and even a beauty contest for pigeons! The main festivities will take place from the 11 to the 13; as a result, Ratchadamnoen Road will be closed to traffic from 4 p.m. onwards and Thapae Road from 6 p.m. onwards on those days.
November 11 will see the 17 Yee Peng lantern parade starting 6 p.m. at Thapae Gate and moving down Thapae Road to Wat Sri Don Chai, where it will finish at midnight. At the Three Kings Monument, there will be the Miss Yee Peng beauty contest, and the beginning of the three-day “Legend of Yee Peng” competition.
The following day, November 12, will feature the ‘Small Krathong Parade,’ from 6 p.m. to midnight, and on November 13 the last and main parade, the ‘Giant Krathong Parade’ will take place. These two parades will both start at Thapae Gate and continue down Thapae Road to the Municipal Offices, and are expected to start at 6 p.m. and continue well into the night.
As with most Loy Krathong Festivals, on the evening of 12 and 13, there will be a large firework display for the Buddha Bucha on the Ping River in front of the Municipal Offices from 7 p.m. onwards, together with Krathong floating Lanna style, also from 7 p.m.
On 12, from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. on (or rather, IN) the river, bamboo rafting and diving competitions will take place. The west side of Narawat Bridge, in front of the Governor’s Residence, will see traditional Lanna merit-making ceremonies, Phra Siri Mong Ka La Yee Peng. On 11, 12 and 13, Wat Jed Lin will display the folk art of 6 ethnic races.
The two main areas from which to release your own Khom Loys are at Thapae Gate and in front of the Governor’s Residence. On 13, Wat Muang Sart Noi will feature the conservation of traditional Yee Peng Wisdom from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Wat Inthakin will feature a traditional display of Lanna lanterns throughout the period. Enjoy!


Don’t Miss

Michael Davies
November 19 will be a special night for the Royal British Legion in Chiang Mai, who will be holding “open house” at the Olde Bell on Loy Kroh Road. This is an opportunity to find out about their work in Thailand as well as to meet the local members. You do not need to have served in the armed forces to belong to the Legion, although most members have served in the British or Commonwealth forces. A free buffet will be provided from 8 p.m., and all are welcome.
November 21 CMIS Dinner and Silent Auction at the Chiang Mai International School. All proceeds will go towards a new, permanent cover for the CMIS Community Sala/Basketball Court. Preview the silent auction items from 6 p.m. until the dinner starts at 6.30 p.m. Tickets cost 400 baht per person and are available from [email protected] For more information, contact 053-306-152 (ext 104).
November 21 The Montford Boy’s Choir’s ‘We love Singing Concert 2008’ is at the Saisuree Chutikul Music Hall, Maekhao Campus, Payap University. The concert starts at 7.30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, please call 053-252-565.
November 30 The Citylife Garden Party will take place from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Citylife grounds on Canal Road. Anyone wishing to donate unwanted clothes or household items should drop them off at Reception, Hillside 4 on Huay Kaew Road. All monies raised will go to the 5th Annual Charity Rooftop Party to be held on 10 January 2009.


Tamarind Village hosts a Chilean wine dinner

Dao, Pat, Urh, Puii, Toom, Toii and Nok,
 all pictured at the Tamarind Village wine dinner.

George Powell
Whilst Halloween celebrations were under way across the city, Tamarind Village on Rachadamnoen Road in the old city held a very special gastronomic wine dinner for over 70 guests, featuring Chilean wines and sponsored by ItalThai, Vittel, Perrier and Dona Dominga.
Wine expert Anuchit Saeng-On was on hand to give advice while guests enjoyed the Chateau Los Boldos Sauvignon Blanc, followed by an excellent Thai dinner served by the swimming pool. Dishes presented included a tasty first course somtam Papaya Salad with sea scallops. The Chef’s recommendation for the main course was sliced roasted duck with lychees in red curry sauce, complimented by a 2006 Chateau Los Boldos Merlot Tradition. A side dish of fried pumpkin with sweet basil was served with sirloin steak as an alternative to the duck, complimented by a 2007 Dona Dominga Cabernet-Merlot. A very pleasant evening in a charming setting was the result.
One guest commented, ‘’I was rather taken with the place; the service was excellent and the manageress is a lovely person. The restaurant menu looks impressive – especially the Thai section – and the bar is very well stocked.” The dinner was sponsored by ItalThai, Vittel, Eau de Perrier and Dona Dominga.


New tourist initiative includes Ratchapruek’s December exposition

Elena Edwards
A new campaign by the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) is planned to run in conjunction with the “Visit Thailand Year- 2008-2009” initiative, and aims to give a much-needed boost to the flagging Thai tourism industry by organising and publicising attractions nationwide.
Entitled “Thieo Thai Khreuk Khreun Settakit Thai Kheuk Khuk” (Bustling Thai Tourism, burgeoning Thai economy), the campaign, officially launched in Bangkok on November 5 by Weerasak Kowsurat, the Thai Minister of Sports and Tourism, will feature countrywide events and publicity. Included will be Chiang Mai’s contribution, the Ratchapruek Exposition in Honour of His Majesty the King, slated to take place between December 1 and 10.
The outdoor exhibition is planned to amaze visitors with a superb show of rare and exotic plants and flowers. Entertainments and spectacular performances of traditional musical and dramatic arts taking place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. each evening are also promised, originating from all 4 of Thailand’s regions. Featured will be country and folk music, grand Thai Khon performances, and jazz bands playing the compositions of His Majesty the King. The dates of the exposition have been specially set to be the official opening of the Royal Ratchapreuk Garden.


CEC holds its first “open meeting” since its inception

Michael LaRocca
On October 25, the Chiang Mai Expats Club had its first open meeting. CEC has been around for over three years, and one of the many decisions made at this meeting was that both board and members wouldn’t wait three years to do it again!
Treasurer Al Trussell kicked things off with the money trail. He’s got hard copies for anyone who’s interested, and the club will be posting regular updates on the website. The group has rapidly grown from 29 guys on top of Art’s Cafe to well over 600 members, so the club’s tireless Board is working to ensure transparency in their operations.
During the August meetings, the group held their second club survey, and the rest of the meeting was dedicated to its results, which will also be on the CEC website in full very soon. Nothing, of course, was unanimous, but the majority agreed with venue, frequency, meeting times, and new member intros. More announcements were preferred to fewer, outside group activities should be promoted more. The guest speaker should remain the meeting’s focus, 45 minutes is a good time limit, and the Open Forum and Lucky Draw remain valuable parts of the meetings. Plenty of support for Expat Newsletter. Rock on, Alan and Tom!
Members want more information about club finances and Board’s governance, and this open meeting was a great first step. The second half of the survey results page, in a much smaller font, is a list of suggestions to improve the club, and these are always welcome. The Board will take them on board (groan) and the “Website” section will be regularly reviewed.