Chulalongkorn Day honors the life of a great King
Tuesday, October 23 marks Chulalongkorn Day or “Wan
Piyamaharaj Day” and honors the life of HRH King Rama V. The day is a
national holiday and ceremonies will be performed throughout Thailand to
mark the day that the great King passed away in the year 1910.
To observe the holiday, banks, government offices and many businesses will
be closed on Tuesday, October 23.
King Chulalongkorn was instrumental in modernizing the Kingdom of Thailand
and is credited with many visionary accomplishments, including the
establishment of the Council of State, setting up 12 different ministries
which reorganized the government administrative system and the abolition of
King Chulalongkorn’s other ambitious achievements included establishing
trade and diplomatic contact with foreign governments, and introducing
revolutionary changes throughout the kingdom regarding police security, a
postal system, hospitals, and railroads. All his reforms were dedicated to
the assurance of Siam’s survival at the time of expansion of Western
colonialism in the region, he earned the name Phra Piya Maharat or theGreat
Chiang Mai Mail
celebrates 10 years!
By Shana Kongmun
Ten years ago, Peter Malhotra saw a need in Chiang Mai, that of its very own
English language newspaper. Over the ensuing years every member of the team
has strived to ensure that the Chiang Mai Mail provides our community with
news, events and coverage of social issues. Although I only came on board 3
years ago I feel a great connection to the Chiang Mai community and a deep
sense of responsibility in offering the best publication possible. To that
end, we are always open to your comments, criticisms and contributions. Feel
free to email me directly [email protected]
Members of the Chiang Mai community have joined in offering the Chiang Mai
Mail their congratulations on our tenth birthday on page 5 and for that, we
thank all of you very much for your kind words and good wishes.
Here’s to the next ten years of serving the community in Chiang Mai!
Chiang Mai Creative gets an Asean boost
Dr. Surin Pitsuwan spoke to a full room
at the Imperial Mae Ping on Wednesday, October 10, talking about Asean,
competiveness, creativity and innovation.
By Shana Kongmun
The Secretary General of Asean and former Nakhon Si Thammarat MP, Dr. Surin
Pitsuwan, gave a compelling speech at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel on
Wednesday, October 10, ranging in topics from the upcoming changes that
Asean integration will bring, to the importance of boosting education in
Dr. Surin Pitsuwan spoke on the Creative Chiang Mai initiative to a full
house. More than 300 people attended the event and sat in rapt attention.
Chiang Mai Governor Tanin Subhasaen was on hand to meet Dr. Surin who spoke
for over an hour and then answered many questions from the interested
He peppered his speech with English phrases, perhaps because he felt that
Thai did not cover the concepts he was trying to convey, “Nature abhors a
vacuum,” he started, and then went on to note that Thailand is more than
just tourism and boutique destinations. Thailand has a growing automotive
industry that is rapidly outstripping its competitors. The country is
gaining an international reputation as a medical destination with excellence
and value for money in health industries.
Dr. Surin said that he first came to Chiang Mai 30-40 years ago when it was
still a sleepy provincial town, very slow and rural. The past ten to fifteen
years has seen tremendous growth and the importance of the creative forces
that are changing the town. He noted that Chiang Mai and Thailand must focus
on creativity and innovation. He added that Thailand is attractive and does
have potential it needs to work on removing obstacles to business.
He noted that Thailand needs to work on its competitiveness however, and
needs to decrease its income disparity. He noted that Thailand needs to
escape the middle income trap, noting that the average monthly wage of 4200
Baht is far less than the 10,000 Baht a month it needs to be.
“Chiang Mai Creative City is the right initiative. We need to leverage
creativity and innovation to get out of the middle income trap, increase our
competitiveness, and use a sustainable development approach,” he noted.
He also noted that while Chiang Mai is an academic community with a high
degree of education and English, many do not and that Thailand needs to make
sure its people catch up. “English is the working language of Asean,” he
noted. “Thais need to work on their English.”
He added that with the upcoming Asean Economic Community there will be a
free flow of skilled labor across Asean and that Thais, while they have the
skills will need to improve their English. He noted that Thai kids today
have the same potential as their neighbors, their education system needs to
He noted that we must think of ourselves not just as a Chiang Mai person,
not just as a Thai person, but as an Asean person. “Many people do not
understand Asean. This is a socio-cultural community. We are all Asian, not
just Thai or Philippines.”
Chiang Mai Governor Tanin
Subhasaen (far left) and President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce
Narong Kongprasert chat with Dr. Surin Pitsuwan before the start of the
Red Cross works to prevent teenage pregnancies
The Red Cross Chiang Mai held a one day training
course for students and teachers on preventing teenage pregnancy (Photo
courtesy of CityNow!)
The Red Cross held a one day training of trainers’ workshop on Saturday,
October 13, 2012 to address the topic of Preventing Teenage Pregnancy which
is within the bilateral project of the Italian Red Cross and the Red Cross
Station Three in Chiang Mai. Mr. Pino Ungaro, Delegate of The Italian Red
Cross in Asia is headquartered in Hanoi, Vietnam. Since 2007, he has closely
collaborated supporting health care awareness projects with Mrs. Somboon
Suprasert, Project Director, Mrs. Margaret Bhadungzong, International
Communications and the staff of Red Cross Station Three in Chiang Mai.
Fifty teachers were invited to participate in the TOT workshop. Three TOT
workshops will be organized for 150 teachers in the Chiang Mai community.
The teachers are student counselors in the M1 to M3 levels (junior high
school level) as well as those teachers of sex education. The main purpose
of this workshop was to provide knowledge, understanding, learning, and
future decision making to all participants who have influence to help stop
teenage pregnancy, prevention and problem counseling to adolescent girls.
“It’s Your Choice” is the supporting program targeting the girl students in
the M1 to M3 levels or junior high school level who will receive health
knowledge, understanding emotions, and learning how to make responsible
decisions to situations that may arise in the future. Ten “It’s Your Choice”
one day workshops are scheduled to target 1,000 girl students in the Chiang
Chiang Mai Governor meets the press
New Chiang Mai Governor Tanin
Subhasaen met the press one day after being confirmed in his appointment as
Chiang Mai Governor.
New Chiang Mai Governor Tanin Subhasaen held his first official press
conference on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 after he was approved by the Cabinet
on October 8, 2012.
Governor Tanin started off by saying that he was delighted to be returning
to Chiang Mai mentioning that he got his start in Chiang Mai. He noted that
the city has an ancient culture that must be respected and preserved. He
said that the traditional way of life must be protected, something he
learned as District Officer of the Muang District.
He added that the overall population of the province is registered at 1.7
million but that farmers make up 1.2 million of those and they must be taken
care of as well.
Governor Tanin noted that he intends to continue the policies of former
Governor M.L. Panadda Diskul in regards to ensuring laws and regulations
must be followed by all businesses and proprietors.
A coordinated campaign to tackle the annual haze will begin on November 1,
He added that with the upcoming Asean Economic Community Chiang Mai must
work on its English that children must be taught English so that the
province can work in the AEC. He added in private interview with Chiang Mai
Mail that he expects Chiang Mai will become an international city, noting
that the expat community in Chiang Mai was an important part of the city and
that he supported the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce’s proposal to provide a
long term 5 year visa for retirees.
During the press conference he noted that he was quite concerned with
kickbacks and corruption, feeling that these will hinder investment in
Thailand by outside investors.
Finally he noted that there are many issues to tackle including the upcoming
completion of the International Convention Center and ensuring effective
management, traffic, and government’s plans to make Chiang Mai the hub for
the Upper North, and preparing residents from the villages on up for the
upcoming economic integration which are expected to bring huge changes to
Yi Peng scheduled
for November 25-29
Yi Peng will be held from November 25-29, 2012
with festivities around the moat and on the river.
Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn chaired the meeting setting in place
preparations for the upcoming Yi Peng or Loy Krathong Festival. There will
be lantern sculptures at eight major points around the municipality,
fireworks shows in honor of HM the King, Mr. and Miss Yi Peng contests,
children’s Yi Peng contest, lantern parade and the highlight; the Grand
Krathong Parade for the King’s Cup on the night of November 29, 2012.
The opening ceremony will be held on November 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Tha Pae
Gate and all are invited to join in the festivities. Again this year, the
moat area will be a no-alcohol zone and people are requested to refrain from
smoking. Additionally, police checkpoints will be set up to check for
illegal fireworks including giant firecrackers.
The Chiang Mai Mail will be publishing a detailed schedule in the November
25th annual Chiang Mai
Food Festival this month
Chiang Mai restaurants will be featured in the 25th annual Chiang Mai Food
Festival to be held at Central Airport Plaza from October 24-31 at the
Central Hall. The theme this year is in accordance with the upcoming
economic integration, “Cuisines of Asia”.
Sunisa Thuwanon President of Chiang Mai Restaurants Club, said the food
festival will help promote Chiang Mai and attract both Thai and foreign
visitors. The event is in cooperation with the Tourism Authority of
Thailand, Chiang Mai office, the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association,
Central Plaza and Queen Sirkit Botanic Gardens which is providing flowers
and decorations in honor of HM Queen Sirikit.
There will be more than 60 booths at the fair featuring exhibitions from 10
Asean countries, and a free concert.
Under the Spotlight: Virginia Bird
Sabu Sabu natural lifestyle
Virginia Bird is passionate
about her natural products.
By Shana Kongmun
Perhaps it’s something in the air of Chiang Mai that attracts so many strong
women here. Perhaps it’s the lifestyle, the charming people. Virginia Bird,
founder and owner of natural and organic health products company Sabu Sabu
fits that bill and joined the ranks of entrepreneurial women in Chiang Mai.
Growing up in Thailand as the luk krueng daughter of a high born family was
difficult, “I was different.” She went to Ruamrudee for high school but
never completed college as “My mother didn’t believe in education for girls.
She was the only one in her whole family who thought this way. The rest were
sent overseas. I wanted to go overseas but my mother said no so I went to
Bangkok College for a term but it was difficult, I was different. I worked
for my dad doing trading instead of staying home with my mother and doing
Virginia married and moved to Hong Kong where she raised a family and
started her own business but after 23 years felt it was time to move back to
Thailand. She knew she didn’t want to live in Bangkok, even though that is
where she grew up. “It had changed too much. It used to be filled with
canals. Chiang Mai reminds me of the way Bangkok used to be when I was
She started a business in furniture export, “I had always loved art and
design as a girl, I wanted to study architecture and design,” she noted that
the furniture business allowed her to grow her creative side. At one point,
one of her overseas customers asked her to put together some gift baskets
for them as well so she investigated the soaps first and decided her
customers were better off if she made her own clean, organic and natural
Starting off in a business like this is not such a stretch as one would
imagine. Virginia’s great grandfather was an advisor to King Rama V and
created his own “Alabaster cream” after his family name. “He was an
engineer,” Virginia laughed, “so I am not sure why he created a cream.” But
her grandfather was also interested in natural remedies and alternative
health and she remembers growing up and looking in her grandfather’s
cupboards as he told her to take some vitamin or herb.
Her soaps are luxurious, it must be said, from the rich coconut oil bar to
the soaps that help with eczema, dryness, and rosacea. It was a natural
progression, she added to the creams, herbal remedies, and the many other
products produced in the kitchens of Sabu Sabu. “People would come in to buy
some soap and ask for a lotion. But it’s not just about the cream on your
skin. It’s the laundry detergent you use, the bathroom and floor cleaners. I
want it so that people can clean themselves naturally.”
She has expanded into a line of organic herbs and spices with no chemical
preservatives because, as she said, “It’s a lifestyle. It’s not just what
you put on your skin but what you eat and how you live.”
Virginia is clearly passionate about this lifestyle choice and it shows as
her customers are more like her friends and come to her for advice and help.
One lady brought her friends after a Sabu Sabu product helped her son
tremendously with nosebleeds. “My son is developing skin problems,” one man
told Virginia and she then quizzed him about the specifics and recommended
one of her myriad of organic and safe skin products.
But Sabu Sabu is not just about soaps and creams. “Every product has a
story, something that inspired me to create it. Moroc (a scent) was inspired
from my friend who was cooking Moroccan food. It smelled so wonderful I
asked him what was in it. I made the cologne out of those ingredients.”
Sabu Sabu supplies many of the major hotels including the Chedi, the Four
Seasons and the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi and some products are sold in
Rimping, Tita Gallery, and Anchan Restaurant off Nimmanhaemin, for the full
range of products a short drive out the Mae Rim Road is in order.
And not one to rest on her laurels, Virginia is now adding a small
spa/massage on to her shop to offer high quality massages, she noted the
masseuses will be coming from the Four Seasons on their days off, to scrubs
using her natural products.
“We make every product here on site. If I can’t source the materials in
Thailand I import them. The most important ingredient in every product is
water. I import rose water from overseas and people say to me I am crazy
it’s just water.” But, as she pointed out, if the water is impure or full of
chemicals then so is the product. “Why does the coffee taste so much better
in Italy? It’s the water!” she answered. “Everything is made from scratch
and we do it the old fashioned way,” she added.
Virginia develops all the products and designs the packaging as well,
admitting that she spends most her day in the office working and talking to
customers, retreating to the house for dinner only to come back again after
dinner to work some more. “It doesn’t feel like work. When I hear something
like that woman saying my son feels better I know it is worth the effort.”
Sabu Sabu can be found on Chotana Road just past the Royal Thai Army Pack
Squadron. Call for directions 053-299-773.
AirAsia wins sixth TTG
‘Best Asian Low-Cost Carrier’ award
AirAsia Thailand Director of Business
Development, M.L. Bovornovadep Devakula, represented AirAsia Group to
receive the award from TTG Asia Media Managing Director Darren Ng (2nd left)
at the 23rd annual TTG Travel Awards 2012.
AirAsia was awarded the ‘Best Asian Low-Cost Carrier’ by TTG,
Asia-Pacific’s leading travel news publisher, at the 23rd Annual TTG Travel
Awards in Bangkok recently.
The airline retained its top spot for the sixth time; winning the category
in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2009, Tony Fernandes was named
‘Travel Personality of the Year’ by the editorial board of TTG.
According to TTG, the event was attended by a total of 700 members of the
Asia-Pacific travel trade and garnered a total of 60,000 valid
votes—compared to 49,000 votes last year and a 20 percent increase—from June
to August for its voted titles.
AirAsia Group CEO, Tony Fernandes said, “A great achievement for us to come
up tops in the Best Asian Low-Cost Carrier category. It reflects our
commitment to excellence and dedication in providing the best to our guests.
To be recognized by an industry insider such as TTG is an honour for us,
more motivation to strive even harder in delivering unparalled products and
services. An award for our achievement is amazing, but we must not be
complacent but instead remain focused in our quest to provide amazing low
fares, superior network and exceptional service.”
TTG Asia Media Managing Director, Darren Ng said, “It’s heartening to see
our industry colleagues innovate and reinvent their products to stay
relevant and in demand. The fact that so many of our winners can return to
reclaim their titles is testament to their constant drive for improvement,
amidst so many other up-and-coming competitors.” (PR)
Chiang Mai nurse wins big in Ichitan contest
A Chiang Mai nurse has won big drinking Ichitan green tea
in their sms sweepstakes “Scorching Rich Code 60 days, 60 million baht”
campaign. Suriya Nutnadda, age 57, a nurse at the Bureau of Communicable
Diseases Control won one million baht in gold after getting the winning code
number from a bottle of Ichitan Green Tea. A widow with two children, she
said she had never had luck and never thought she would win. Noting that
after her husband had died she was left with large debts and a mortgage. She
plans on using the money to pay off her debts. CEO of Ichitan, Tan
Passakornnate, travelled to Chiang Mai to present her with her winnings, the
first person in the North and only the 4th person in Thailand, to win in the
Asian Oasis wins
Sustainable Tourism Award
Executive Director of Asian Oasis receives the award from Vice President of
Skäl International, Karine Coulanges during the 73rd Skål World Congress in
Asian Oasis’s Lisu and Lanjia Lodges have been honored at
the Skål Sustainable Development in Tourism Awards held at the Songdo
Conevensia, The award was announced by the President of Skäl International
Thailand, Andrew J Wood and presented by Vice President of Skäl
International, Karine Coulanges during the 73rd Skål World Congress.
The Diversey Special Recognition Award shares its aim with the Sustainable
Development in Tourism Awards (SDIT), presented by Skäl International. The
award acknowledges innovative projects that transform the conventional
understanding of sustainability and that embrace the important principles of
safety, risk management and corporate responsibility.
Asian Oasis’s Lisu and Lanjia Lodge are prime examples of properties that
have gone beyond protecting and preserving while decisively transforming its
business into a sustainable enterprise. The properties were awarded with a
unique trophy provided by Diversey.
The company has won praise from the President of Skäl International Bangkok
Dale Lawrence. Speaking at the award presentation in South Korea Mr.
Lawrence said, “Asian Oasis has made a substantive contribution to
sustainable tourism in the region. This is a company that delivers at every
level within the organization and this award recognizes, quite rightly, the
company’s commitment and achievements.
Asian Oasis owns and operates Lisu Lodge and Lanjia Lodge. Lisu Lodge was
founded in 2007. In 2009, Asian Oasis thoughtfully expanded with the
introduction of Lanjia Lodge. Lisu Lodge is situated in a small Lisu tribal
village 50 km from Chiang Mai. Lisu Lodge stands as a success story of an
integrated culturally and environmentally conscious development.
Skäl, the world’s largest organization of travel and tourism professionals,
has presented Ecotourism Awards each year since 2002. The initial awards
program was launched following a United Nations declaration of the ‘Year of
Ecotourism and the Mountains’. The awards recognized best practices around
the world in the areas of ecotourism and environmental responsibility. As
awareness has grown about the broader strategic value of sustainability Skäl
consulted with Diversey to expand the program.
for dealing on Facebook
Sansai monk caught
selling drugs to teenagers
university students were arrested for selling drugs through their Facebook
25 year monk Phra Suphab Buthong from Wat Tonsarn in Sansai was arrested by
Chiang Mai Region 5 police on October 4, 2012 after a teenager arrested with
Yaba confessed to police that he had purchased the drugs from the monk at
Police searched the monks’ quarters and found 43 methamphetamine tablets.
The monk confessed to police that he had been selling to teenagers in the
area and using them himself.
He was defrocked and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law
according to Pol. Maj. Gen. Chamnan Ruwdrew, Deputy Commander Police Region
5. The Deputy Commander noted that most of the drug dealing gangs are linked
and that the police expect to make further arrests.
After the arrest of a drug trafficker in Lampang in 2011 police began
investigating a local woman and on October 6, 2012, police raided the Sansai
home of Chitchanok Santhep where they confiscated a BMW 320 I, aToyota
Camry, 2 million baht in cash, gold jewelry and 30 bank books. Additionally,
they seized property in Lampang and Chiang Mai valued at more than 200
million Baht under the law allowing police to seize the assets obtained from
Two university students, 22 year old Artit Khatta and his girlfriend 19 year
old Varin Wanchoopring, were arrested on October 11, 2012 for dealing drugs
through their Facebook accounts after a 17 year old was arrested by police
in possession of methamphetamine and confessed to the police that he had
bought them from a Facebook friend.
A police check of the accounts showed regular postings regarding selling and
distribution of drugs. Artit led police to the arrest of a man in Chiang Dao
who was part of the drug ring; 27 year old Surachai Phanlor and his 16 year
old brother were apprehended selling drugs on a side street and in
possession of 2,000 Yaba pills.
Deputy Commander Chamnan reported that the war against drugs is expected to
intensify this year as the government has set more stringent measures and
the police have been told to expedite the arrest of drug dealers and
Police confiscate tons of illegally imported weight loss pills
Police confiscated re-packaged
counterfeit goods imported illegally from China without an FDA license at a
warehouse in Mae Hia.
A raid on a warehouse on October 4, 2012 in Mae Hia
uncovered owner Satit Kittikham with a pickup truck full of weight loss
products, skin whitening creams and other beauty products.
A search of the warehouse ended up filling four six-wheel trucks with
illegally imported drugs and beauty products that were then re-packaged
under famous brand names.
Satit confessed to police that he had smuggled the FDA unapproved drugs over
the border at Mae Sai, then repackaged them under brand name packaging to
for sale on the internet.
Deputy Commander of Police Bureau Region 5 Maj. Gen. Chamnan Ruadrew and the
Chief of the Department of Consumer Protection at the Chiang Mai Public
Health Office Issara Nanawichit announced the arrest and cautioned women to
beware counterfeit goods.
Police raid snake farms
in Chiang Mai
The raid on
Chiang Mai snake farms saw the confiscation of dozens of snakes and other
wildlife being held without the proper licenses.
Police and National Parks officials checked wild animal shows in Mae Sa and
Mae Rim on October 3 to determine if any of the shows had illegal and
unregistered animals. Police checked four places; the King Cobra Snake Farm,
Mae Sa Snake Farm, Mae Rim Snake Farm and the Monkey Center in Mae Rim to
determine if they had fully complied with the Wildlife Preservation and
Protection Act of 1992.
The Deputy Chief of the Department of National Parks Theeraphat Prayurasith
said his team found 10 illegal snakes, mainly king cobras and boa
constrictors, at the Chiang Mai Cobra Farm, the owner admitted she did not
have licenses for the snakes, saying she had bought them from local farmers.
32 snakes were seized from Mae Sa Snake Farm, including king cobras, boa
constrictors, pythons and stripe-tailed racers. 20 other species of animal
were seized including pig-tailed macaques, starlings, pheasants and Thai
peacocks as being held without the proper licenses. Mae Rim Snake Farm had
34 snakes seized.
52 animals were found at the Monkey Center and officials were checking the
licenses to make sure they were valid.
Chongkrai Worapongsatorn, Director of Wildlife Conservation at the Office of
Conservation said that there had been an amnesty giving farm owners time to
obtain the proper licenses but that period was now over and those found in
possession of wildlife without the proper licenses face 40,000 Baht in fines
and/or up to four years in prison.
The Deputy Chief said that they plan on inspecting all of the district’s 9
snake farms and other animal shows to discourage the sale and trade of
endangered animals. He noted that the trade in cobras was especially
damaging to the eco-system as they played a vital role in keeping pests such
as mice and rats under control. The cobras will be sent to the Pasteur
Village headmen protest over term limits
village heads and sub-district heads rallied at City Hall on Tuesday,
October 2 to protest against proposed term limits.
Around 500 sub-district headmen, village headmen, assistant village headmen,
and assistant sub-district headmen rallied at Chiang Mai City Hall on
October 2 to protest against the new Local Government Act that is being
drafted for Parliamentary approval that will limit terms to 5 years.
Currently they can hold the position until they turn 60.
Apiwat Katkittanapong , the president of Chiang Mai Village Headman
Association submitted their complaint to Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Chuchart
Keelapaeng at the rally. He asked that it be submitted immediately to the
Prime Minister so that the Act can be cancelled before it passes or they
would protest in Bangkok with village headmen from around the country.
The Deputy Governor said that the village is the first level of government
in the country and it is the one in closest contact with the people. He
noted that he would pass their complaint on to the Prime Minister.
Pharmacy raided for selling illegal drugs
The Por Pharmacy on Chotana Road was raised by police and officials from the
Public Health Office on October 10 after an undercover officer bought
unapproved drugs from the pharmacy including the “abortion pill” RU-486
which has not been approved for use by the FDA in Thailand. Police said that
the owner, Prasert Phusit age 63 had sold the drugs to the agent for 2000
Additionally, other drugs such as Xanax were confiscated as being labeled
incorrectly or appearing to have been imported illegally. The Director of
the Chiang Mai Public Health Office Dr. Wattana Kanchanakamol reported that
this is not the first time this pharmacy has been raided for selling
Body of newborn baby
found floating in the river
Muang Police were called to Nawarat Bridge on October 4, 2012 after the
pilot of one of the river boats reported to police seeing the body of a baby
floating in the Ping river near Nawarat Bridge.
Police have taken the body to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital to
investigate if the baby was dead before it was put into the water or if it
was drowned. They believe the baby girls was born to a young teenager as
that is the most common reasons for abandonment. Police will investigate to
determine who the mother is and if she will be prosecuted for the death of
the baby once the autopsy results are received.