HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Mountain biking championships in Tak

The blooming Krachiao flower festival

Mae Hong Son to develop border pass as tourist destination


Mountain biking championships in Tak

Mountain bikers gather at one of Thailand’s most scenic dams
for a series of races and fun activities.

Bumping over rough trails is not everyone’s idea of having fun, but medical science appears to support the idea that riding your mountain bike over a boulder-strewn course is actually good for building bone density.

If you need an excuse to join the sixth Bhumibol Dam International Mountain Bike Championship, 29 to 30 August, that might be it. But it is more likely to be that the venue, for this fun event, is the scenic Bhumibol Dam, surrounded by forest-covered hills, in Sam Ngao district, Tak province.

This weekend of fun rides and serious competition is a firm fixture in Thailand’s annual sports events calendar. It is remarkably popular because it focuses on mountain bikes as opposed to the majority of cycle-related events that are either a triathlon with competitors using triathlon or time-trial bikes, or the tradition road races that favour super light road bikes.

Backing the event are the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Sports Authority of Thailand. Created to promote an interest in outdoor sports and also encourage ecotourism at both national and international levels, the races underscore the beauty of a province that is not on the main tourist trail.

For many mountain bikers and their families this is the highlight of the year, a reunion of friends from both Thailand and overseas, who share a passion for mountain bikes. Participants of all ages gather at the starting line on the crest of the spectacular Bhumibol Dam for two days of fun activities and serious races.

This very scenic location provides a variety of race routes that will both challenge the semi-pro mountain bike racers and also please recreational riders.

There are six categories to choose from; Long distance 60 km., family 16 km., tour biking 10 km., cyclo-cross on the dam’s crest, five km., international race 39 km., amateur 24 km.

To ensure all the hard physical activity is balanced with lots of fun, the organisers encourage visitors and participants to display vintage two wheelers in an “ancient bike contest”. The line up is impressive with some participants showing off bikes that have serious historical value, while others are more exotic, possibly bordering on weird.

On the sidelines, folk music bands entertain to create a family atmosphere, while there are even handicraft stalls supplied by shops under the One Tambon, One Product project, a national initiative to support village handicrafts.

Bhumibol Dam is located in Tak province, just off Highway 1.

The race site, at the crest of the dam, is 60 km north of Tak provincial town, where most of the hotel accommodation is located. Call TAT Tak office at 055 514341-3. www. (TAT)


The blooming Krachiao flower festival

The unique geographical landscape of Chaiyaphum Province in the northeast of Thailand gives rise to a range of natural attractions of exceptional beauty. Of these, the fields of pinkish-purple Siam Tulip, or “Dok Krachiao”, come in to full bloom in the early part of the rainy season from June to August. Also commonly called ‘patumma’, ‘bua sawan’ (heaven lotus), or ‘bua bok’ (the land lotus), the Siam Tulip is a member of the ginger genera — Curcuma or Zingiberaceae. The Siam Tulip Festival is at Pa Hin Ngam National Park in the Ban Rai district of Chaiyaphum province from June 1 to July 31. For more information contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Nakhon Ratchasima office. 0 4421 3030. [email protected] (TAT)

Mae Hong Son to develop border pass as tourist destination

Khajohn Boonpath

Mae Hong Son is developing the Ban Nam Piengdin border pass as a new tourist area, with historical buildings, bridges and border trade as a focus for the area, Thanin Supasaen, Deputy Governor of Mae Hong Son announced after a meeting of commercial and government representatives to develop guidelines for developing the area.

The Maejae District in Myanmar expressed interest in the development and the Mae Hong Son government hopes to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Myanmar District on the issue.

The Myanmar Government has also expressed an interest in developing the border pass at Ban Pha Homnam into a trade and tourist area as well. They plan on meeting with Mae Hong Son Provincial Authority officials to work out the details of the MoU for Ban Nam Piengdin and will discuss the Ban Pha Homnam pass at that time.

“Once the MoU has been signed then Thai people and tourists would be able to use this border point and can be issued temporary border passes for those that would like to travel inside Myanmar,” said a representative of the Myanmar government.

”This border pass will increase the import and export border trade and also strengthen good relations between the two countries,” he added.