Vol. VIII No. 8 - Tuesday
February 24 - March 2, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


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

To needy children – a gift born of love on Valentine’s Day

‘The speak truth to power play: Voices from beyond the dark’

Thai German community welcomes new German Ambassador

Recession Restaurant Reviews

Imperial Mae Ping celebrates its 21st birthday with 3 Elvises

‘Once upon a Time’

Love is beautiful on Valentine’s night

To needy children – a gift born of love on Valentine’s Day

Surapan Somthai, general manager of the U hotel presents a cheque for 50,000 baht to Khunying Raveephan Sucharitkul, the president of the Baan Kingkaew’s orphanage foundation, to help support the children’s education.

George Powell
Needy children, all under 5 years old and in the care of Baan Kingkaew Orphanage, received a gift born of love on Valentine’s Day – a party and a cheque for 50,000 baht, given by the GM and staff of U Hotel Chiang Mai. The money will be used to further the children’s education, according to Khunying Chao Raveephan Sucharitkul, the Baan Kingkaew Foundation’s president. The foundation dedicates itself to the housing and care of needy children from birth to 5 years old, provides scholarships for the education of older children, and organises activities aimed at preventing drug use in youngsters.
Surapan Srithai, U Hotel’s GM, describing the hotel group’s charitable mission, said, “Even though the tourist industry has been badly affected by the global economic recession, we still believe that these children, and many other people out there, are in need of help and support. ‘U Make a Difference’ is a brand-wide programme which supports organisations which serve the local communities in which the group’s hotels are located. Funds are raised by the group’s contribution of 30 baht for every paid room night across all its hotels, and are distributed to chosen foundations twice yearly.”
20 children aged 4-5 were given a great party, with games, food and fun, and repaid the hotel’s representatives at the end by singing a sweet song of thanks and love.

 

‘The speak truth to power play: Voices from beyond the dark’

Elena Edwards
In the 1990s, Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy and niece of John F. Kennedy, toured the world to interview human rights defenders. Whilst of many ages and nationalities, they all have one thing in common: they risk a great deal, sometimes their own lives, to speak truth to those in power and defend others’ human rights.

Kek Galabru from Cambodia, one of the human rights defenders quoted in the play.

One of those interviewed, a Mexican nun and human rights lawyer, was murdered in 2001. Ms. Kennedy published a book of her interviews, complemented by black and white portraits of the interviewees taken by famed photographer Eddie Adams. Chilean-American playwright Ariel Dorfman, author of Death and the Maiden, turned the book into a play, combining the true words of real people with an evil yet ‘Conscience of the Audience’ character, called The Man. The play had its premiere at Washington DC’s Lincoln Center in 2001, with such actors as Alec Baldwin, Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and Héctor Elizondo playing ‘parts.’ The play continues to be performed around the world annually, often with a celebrity cast, as part of Speak Truth To Power’s dedication to the promotion of human rights awareness. There is more information about Speak Truth, and bios and photos of the defenders, at http://www.speaktruth.org/.

The entrance to the Rocky Mountain School in Mae Sot.
Speak Truth To Power Chiang Mai is a loose group of new friends, people of all ages, nationalities, and native languages, taking part in a production of ‘The speak truth to power play: Voices from beyond the dark,’ to be performed on March 2, 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. at the AUA Language Centre’s Auditorium. The play runs for about an hour. No acting experience or memorisation is necessary: people simply speak aloud the real and powerful words of other people who cannot be there to speak for themselves.
Proceeds from the play will go to the Rocky Mountain School in Mae Sot. This school has 168 students, mostly refugee children from Burma, 73 of whom live at the school. A funding crisis means that the school may have to close, in which case some of the students might lose their homes and their access to a small health clinic, as well as their education. Attending this play means not only giving these children short-term security for a better long term livelihood, but will also celebrate those souls around the Earth who may be isolated, endangered, or imprisoned, but still have courage to speak truth to those in power. There is a suggested donation of 300 baht or 100 baht for students.
For further information contact Rachel: dr.silvertoes @gmail.com, and for more information about Speak Truth, and bios and photos of the defenders, please visit www.speaktruth.org.


Thai German community welcomes new German Ambassador

(Left to right) Wuttipong Arayatumsopon, Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon, the German Ambassador, Dr. Hanns H.Schumacher, Sabine and Thomas Zimpfer, Hagen Dirksen, the German honorary consul in Chiang Mai and his wife Wanphen.

CMM Reporters
Dr. Hanns H. Schumacher, Germany’s Ambassador to Thailand, requested the pleasure of the company of the Thai-German community of Chiang Mai on Friday February 13 at the Saen Kham Terrace Restaurant in Ban Nai Fun, Hang Dong. The event was hosted by Hagen Dirksen, German honorary consul, and his wife Wanphen, with Dr. Schumacher greeting each of the many guests personally.
In his welcome speech, the German Ambassador (brushing aside microphone problems with good humour) stressed that the 3,000-strong German community has an important place in Chiang Mai, adding that all German residents contribute to the future of the friendship between the two countries, as well as to the local economy. He thanked the German honorary consul Hagen Dirksen and his wife Wanpen for their hosting of the event, and recommended that everyone should enjoy the delicious Thai buffet, including many northern Thai dishes, provided by the restaurant, plus, of course, the famous German wines.
A presentation of a Thai-German children’s book co-authored by Prinzessin Maja von Hohenzollern and a traditional Thai teakwood carving of elephants was made to Dr. Schumacher by representatives of Thailandfreunde e.V., with best wishes for the new ambassador’s time in Thailand.


Recession Restaurant Reviews

David Bennett
Conversation between two hungry expats… ‘Where are you going for lunch today?’
‘I’m going to Tops’ Food Court.’ ‘Right, I’ve never been there, is it any good?’
‘You’ve lived here for 8 years, and you’ve never been to Tops’ Food Court?’
My first thought was that this chap should have been arrested on a charge of not experiencing life to the full or walking around with his eyes closed. The point is, a visit to Tops’ Food Court can be a food-buying experience, a lunch experience and an anthropological experience all rolled into one.
As you enter the food court, the first thing you see is a lady grilling small round sausages, followed by a sushi cart with prices of 5, 10 and 15 baht a piece. A cart selling fresh coffee and another one selling Thai desserts are next. On your left is Tops bakery.
When I first came to Thailand, if you asked for bread you were offered a small pack of sliced white polystyrene with the crusts cut off. Now I’m looking at beautiful fresh French Banquettes at 49 baht, sour dough sesame rolls, Bavarian bread, spinach basil bagels and, one of my favourites, bacon nan. At 32 baht, it’s big enough for two and goes so well with an Indian vegetable curry. But here we are at the food court itself, with about 20 separate cooking stations. Before you make your choice, you must buy some coupons. Unused ones can be redeemed for cash when you leave. Next comes picking a table for 4 or taking a seat at one of the longer tables that seat up to 10 dinners.
Now you may order your lunch, cooked freshjust for you. Pad Thai Goong, fried noodles with prawns, is always good. Just say the magic words mai sai nam tan, don’t put sugar with it. 5 minutes later, you are presented with a delicious, fresh lunch. After a few visits, you’ll probably notice the portion increases in size as the friendly cooking lady gives you a wink and an extra prawn. The Thai chap standing next to you, who works in the shoe shop, has ordered the same meal, but he ladles 3 dessert spoons of sugar onto his! I just give him a grin.
Today, as we are having lunch, we see 4 hulking great American soldiers in full camouflage outfits, here for the Cobra Gold joint exercises. Next to them sits a tiny hill tribe man with his wife. What on earth do they make of it?
A lot of food courts are quite noisy, but Tops doesn’t have music, so it’s quite likely that you will get into a conversation with, for example, a hi-so lady and her daughter up from Bangkok. ‘What is Khao Soi Gai? Will I be able to eat it?’ Or tourists from the hotel next door, remarking that, ‘These noodles with beef balls and boiled beef are so tasty.’ A gaggle of Chiang Mai university students anxious to practice their English may insist on buying you a plate of Mango and sticky rice with coconut milk. Delicious!
On the table opposite, an old farang has just sat down with some salad from the salad bar, a pack of Italian salami and a French stick. He’s making a sandwich! He looks so happy. My meal has cost 40 baht, so I cash in my remaining 10 baht coupon before heading into Tops Supermarket to pick up some fresh coriander, salmon steaks and somtam for tonight’s dinner at home. Perfect!


Imperial Mae Ping celebrates its 21st birthday with 3 Elvises

Andy Archer
The Imperial Mae Ping Hotel celebrated its 21st birthday party in its own Beer Garden on February 18, with over 400 people having fun and congratulating the hotel.

Elvis Alive times three!

Praphan Kodpet, the Imperial’s GM, told the Chiang Mai Mail that, when the hotel was first built, it was the tallest building on the whole of Chiang Mai city! In a comment relevant to the style of entertainment at the birthday party, he also let slip that he was the very first Elvis impersonator to perform at the hotel, all those years ago!
The evening’s entertainment was, perhaps traditionally, Elvis. From Bangkok came Jasuek Viriyakiy, who not only performed as the King, but also as Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdink! Following that achievement came Chiang Mai’s own resident Elvis, Kaniapon Tongmee, and finally, as a very special treat, Vasu Sangsingkaew, the internationally famous Elvis impersonator. For a ticket price of 499 baht, which included a tasty buffet and soft drinks, a great night was had by all!


‘Once upon a Time’

The winning writers hold up their certificates at the 5th Junior IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards party held at Citylife gardens on February 13.

Michael Davies
The annual Junior IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards contest for young writers between the ages of 14 and 18 were recently held in Chiang Mai, with the subject for the English language essays being ‘Once Upon a Time.’ The judging criteria were command of the English language, passion and creativity, and the ability to write a ‘really good story.’
The first prize of 10,000 baht, 3 return air tickets to Bangkok, and accommodation in the capital for the period of the national competition was scooped by Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn from Nakorn Payap International School, who considering the difficulties of writing English, even for many native speakers, deserves congratulations and best wishes for the national competition. If his story is chosen to represent Thailand at the Dublin Literary Awards, he will also receive 2 return air tickets to that ‘fair city.’
The 2ndand 3rd prizes respectively were awarded to Samsuda Khem-nguad from Grace International School and Nadia Estelle Guntang from Prem Tinsulanonda International School, who both received 5,000 baht and a certificate. The contest’s northern area judges, Robert Tilley, author and owner of the Writers Club, Wanaporn Buanamjued, deputy editor of Compass Magazine and Citylife MD and editor Pim Kemasingki, also awarded a ‘special vote’ to Max Menzel from the Lanna International School and the ‘Judges’ favourite vote’ to Abia Thakkar Shingala from Nakorn Payap International School.


Love is beautiful on Valentine’s night

Baron Dieter and Baroness Suchid von Baum-Bezing and the Japanese Consul General, Junko Yokoka, with Hagen E. W. Dirksen, the German honorary consul and his wife Wanphen.

Andy Archer
Hagen E. W. Dirksen, German honorary consul, his lovely wife Wanphen and Tanguy de Buchet, L’Occitane’s GM, together hosted the 8th Annual Valentine ‘Love is beautiful’ cocktail party, held on Valentine’s night at the Ban Nai Fun Restaurant in Hang Dong.
Amongst the guests were some of the most prominent people in Chiang Mai, including the city’s Mayor Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai, stunning in a knee length pink silk cocktail dress with spaghetti straps, Sabine Zimpfer, glamorous in a full-length green evening gown, and George Sioris, former Greek Ambassador, with his wife Dararat, elegant as always in matching turquoise and pink. Mindful of the party’s theme, Gert and Anette Luecke wore matching T-shirts ornamented with red Valentine hearts. Shannon Morrow, wife of Michael Morrow, the US Consul, was very pleased with her husband’s Valentine’s gift of a beautiful necklace.
Well-known tenor Book Kitavandha topped the entertainment bill, singing romantic love songs, including ‘But Beautiful’ and ‘Can you feel the love tonight?,’ then livened up the event with Latin rhythms. Everyone agreed that a great time was had by all.



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