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
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
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
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’
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/.
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
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.
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
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
Conversation between two hungry expats… ‘Where are you going for
‘I’m going to Tops’ Food Court.’ ‘Right, I’ve never been there, is it any
‘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
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.
Imperial Mae Ping celebrates
its 21st birthday with 3 Elvises
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.
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.
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
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.
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.