HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Share Your Southeast Asia Adventures and Win

Architecture as art

Chiang Mai student brings the Big Cat Initiative to local schools

Chiang Mai Markets

Abandoned in a rubbish bin

Charitable organizations abound in Chiang Mai

Share Your Southeast Asia Adventures and Win

Photo taken from Myanmar in ASEANTA’s last photo contest.

Never has there been a better time to share your favorite snapshots and stories from your travels in Southeast Asia. The ASEAN Tourism Association’s new www.SoutheastAsia.org travel portal is running a writing and photography contest with US$15,000 in prize money up for grabs. Entries close on 15 June.

The inaugural “Southeast Asia: feel the warmth” Travel Photography and Writing Awards will be awarded in two categories: Editor’s Choice, decided by a panel of judges, and People’s Choice, voted on by visitors to the site. The monthly Editor’s Choice winners and the top three People’s Choice entries each month are eligible for the Grand Prizes. Voting for the People’s Choice Grand Prize will take place in July.


Architecture as art

One of Khun Arwut’s works of art to be on display in Chiang Mai.

Arwut Ankawut is among Thailand’s master architectural illustrationists. Straddling the world of architecture and art, he has successfully constituted beauty and taste by exploring elements of art composition and architectural natural reality. The results:- a compellingly lifelike and architectural fine art. This year is Arwut’s second art exhibitionat Tita Gallery Chiangmai. The 20 fresh paintings are gouache on paper - painting with opaque watercolors. The “Architectural Wisdom II” will be available on view daily during May 1-31 from 8 AM - 6 PM

Chiang Mai student brings the Big Cat Initiative to local schools

By Shana Kongmun

Recently, a young student from American Pacific International School here in Chiang Mai addressed the Friends of Chiang Mai about an important cause close to her heart. Jessica Joy Pfotenhauer grew up Botswana, not far from a game reserve. The big cats of Africa were part and parcel of her life. Imagine her shock when she heard of the initiative instituted by world renowned wildlife film-makers and conservationists Beverly and Dereck Joubert, in conjunction with the National Geographic Society, to save the planet’s big cats.

BIG CAT: American Pacific International School student Jessica Joy Ptofenhauer is campaigning at local schools to get lions listed on the CITES protected species list.

She found that not only are all big cat populations shrinking, but also the symbol of Africa - at the top of the food chain, the lion, is quickly losing ground. Fifty years ago, there were close to a half million lions in Africa. Today there are between 16 000 and 23 000.

Lions are hunted legally in some countries in Africa; and, even more disturbing, their bones and other body parts are apparently being sold off as tiger parts, as the Asian demand for tiger parts continues to grow. Substitute tigers, as it were, since the tiger population is now estimated to be around 3,000, and there are less tigers to be poached. This trade of lion bones and parts is not illegal.

Poachers in Africa have taken to using a deadly pesticide to poison lions; it is produced in the United States, but is not for sale either there or in Europe; however it is readily available in Africa. Furadan, and other carbofurans, used to eliminate locusts, is called ‘Two Step’, because after ingesting just a few granules of it, you take two steps and die. Poachers are lacing carcasses with this poison, causing entire lion prides, and subsequently all carnivores and carrion eaters feeding on the poisoned carcass, to die. In fact, a small Kenyan child recently died from accidentally ingesting just a small amount of this poison.

Jessica was amazed to learn that lions are not protected by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species that controls trade in animals and animal products. So, to that end, she has taken inspiration from the founders of the Big Cat Initiative, Beverly and Dereck Joubert, to start a petition campaign here in Chiang Mai. She wants to help get lions listed on the CITES Appendix I - to stop the legal trade of lion parts; a second petition seeks to get the killer Furadan pesticide banned from sale.

Last January, at the Elephant Nature Park near Mae Theng, Jessica first spoke to participants of ‘The Power of One’, a US-based, cross-cultural training programme that involves Thai and international students in animal care and conservation activities. The enthusiasm she encountered, including one student who promised to take the petition campaign to Australia, encouraged her to speak to other schools.

Jessica was given permission to talk to fellow students about the petition campaign by the administration at American Pacific, and talk she did. She was surprised by the varying levels of interest she received, stating that the younger students seemed to be the most enthusiastic, interested and concerned about the problem. After speaking at a school assembly, she then went from class to class to encourage students to sign the petition.

She also started a Facebook page for the Big Cat Initiative, and said she has received quite a bit of support there as well.

Jessica plans to approach as many schools as possible here in Chiang Mai, to address the students and get them involved in the Initiative, with a plan to expand the petition campaign. She is encouraged by the support of Beverly and Dereck, who have said that the active involvement of youth is one of the most important aspects of such an initiative.

For more information, go to www.nationalgeographic .com/bigcats. If you are interested in hearing Jessica’s presentation at your school, please email the [email protected] for more details.

Chiang Mai Markets

By Shana Kongmun

Chiang Mai is blessed (or perhaps not, for those not shopping inclined) with a plethora of weekly, nightly and daily markets. From the Sunday Walking Street Market, with its myriad of products on sale, to the new walking market at JJ Market, to the small weekend market at Think Park, Chiang Mai has an abundance of places to go. There are nightly markets near Chiang Mai University carrying all sorts of clothes, jewelry and everything in between, and the Kad Sum Murd night market at Kad Suan Kaew on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, where jewelry, clothing and handicrafts are on sale.

A vendor sets up the simplest of ways to sell her produce, a blanket on the ground with her locally grown vegetables for sale to passersby at a local market.

Not just for shoppers, these markets offer a plethora of food and entertainment. Often musicians will set up and perform, Nick the Magician is often seen performing his tricks on the Sunday Walking Street Market. There are charity organizations with booths set up; schools send students to perform and more.

There are established markets with permanent booths; the fabulous plant market at Khamthien behind the Tesco Lotus is one such market, as is JJ Market with its antique shops. There is, of course, the well, known tourist draw, the Night Bazaar, a local friend of mine shops there, telling me that occasionally there are some real finds there and if you bargain hard enough, you can get the price down past the inflated tourist prices that are often trotted out. But, knowledge of Thai helps tremendously she said. And an idea of what the price should be in the first place.

Warorot Market is more of a local market and appears to have everything under the sun. From clothes, to amulets, to food, there is an alleyway tucked in the back full of dried herbs, spices and natural remedies that is well worth seeking out. Sewing goods are readily available here and far more cheaply than in many of the big stores. Warorot is rather full on for most people, so its better go to earlier in the day. My shopping savvy friend tells me there is a little late-night market that sets up in the streets around Warorot as well, selling cheap clothing, food and drinks.

Nearby is the famous cut flower market, Ton Lamyai, again, busy and crowded but the place to go for cut flowers. The fruit market is within walking distance at Muang Noi and as we come into mango season, is a great place to pick up fresh mangoes for a highly reasonable price. There are a myriad of fresh markets (talat sot) outside of town as well, with Meechoke hosting a big one. San Pakoy near the train station is the site of another large local market.

Wualai, famed for the silversmiths and silver shops that line its streets, holds a Saturday walking street market with more than just silver, again, clothes, handicrafts, and of course, food, is on offer.

With many of these markets the favorite pastime of many Thais is visibly on display. Not conspicuous consumption of things but rather, of food. With northern delicacies, sweets, snacks, rice soup, curries, rice dishes, cakes, drinks, fresh juices and more, the visitor to many of these markets will not walk away hungry or thirsty. Often, many people visit these markets looking for a favorite vendor. One woman I know swears by the cakes sold by a certain woman at the Sunday Walking Street market. Fuel for the shopping perhaps!

Many people descry the establishment of the large shopping centers with the chain stores and the Tesco, Big C and other big stores replacing the local markets. So far, at least in Chiang Mai, it seems to have provided people with alternatives to local markets, but the markets still thrive. Perhaps it’s the food or perhaps it’s the social setting that goes along with the shopping.

Food stalls abound in local and tourist markets, eating is an integral
part of the entire market shopping experience.

Abandoned in a rubbish bin

Foster mum and rapidly growing kitten both need a home.

Only a few days old, this tiny kitten, was found in a rubbish bin early one morning. Luckily for the kitten a foster mother was available and now he is growing into a strong healthy kitten with beautiful blue eyes. He’s cream with a brown tail and ears and is adorable. The foster mum is also a rescue cat, she’s spayed and also needs a home, maybe together?  If you think you can give either the baby and/or the foster momma a home please contact Gilly 0871 891623 gillysav @gmail.com.

Charitable organizations abound in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has an abundance of charitable organizations, enough to fulfill anyone’s need for helping those less fortunate. From orphans of AIDS, to children with cerebral palsy, from helping hill tribes children to cats, dogs and elephants; there is something for everyone.

Some of these organizations do receive some help from the Thai government but usually, as has been seen in a recent article about a lack of funding for the elephant hospital in Lampang, governmental promises of money dry up in times of trouble.

For those who wish to help, it can sometimes be a minefield of which organization does what and for whom.

Baan Piranan is a resident care facility For children with Cerebral Palsy, a few months ago, two of the resident children, with the help of Cultural Canvas, another worthy organization, held an art show of pieces they had made themselves. Cultural Canvas has worked with Baan Piranan as well as Grandma Cares in bringing art to underprivileged kids. They encourage artists, sculptures, and just those interested, in helping raise childrens’ awareness of art and how it enriches their lives.

ViengPing Children’s Home is a well known orphanage that was the first of its kind to take in orphans affected by HIV/AIDS. They encourage visitors to come and visit, to bring toys for the children but even better, stay and spend some time with these kids who have no families.

Other well known charitable events organized by locals and expats include the famous Toy Ride that takes place every year, bringing toys to children who would otherwise have no toys at all. Other bikers organize the Big Bike Week, they have helped build school buildings, bring food and again, what some might consider a luxury but as everyone knows is a necessity to a child: toys.

For those who wish to help our furry friends, Care for Dogs needs not only people willing to accept a new dog into their life but also volunteers to help man the booth at the Sunday Walking Street Market. A new organization has just started up for cats, called The Cat Sterilization Project, an attempt by cat lovers to not only bring the burgeoning stray cat population under control but also find homes for cats in need. Elephants too, have their friends, with several groups, including the 200 Club organizing charity events to help elephant parks.

A few organizations mentioned here can be easily found on the web.

The cat sterilization program is at http://catsterilization .org/ or email [email protected]

Care for Dogs is at http://www.carefordogs.org/ or email [email protected]

Vieng Ping Orphanage is at http://www.chiangmai-chiangrai.com/viengping_childrens_home.html

Cultural Canvas Thailand: http://www.culturalcanvas.com/

Baan Piranan www.baan-piranan.org

The Cultural Exchange program can be emailed [email protected]