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NEWS
 

Chiang Mai Beautiful City

Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn launched the new project to garner support for new laws instituting zoning and height restrictions at the Lanna Folk Life Museum on March 31, 2013.

Nopniwat Krailerg and Shana Kongmun
The latest effort, titled “Chiang Mai Beautiful City”, a bid to muster support for implementing measures to control development, institute zoning laws and restrict the height of buildings in the Old City was launched on March 31, 2013 by Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn. The project is being implemented to preserve the historic architecture and scenic resources of the city that are essential to the future development of the city.
The goal is to raise public support for enacting laws that would limit the height of buildings around the moat and inside to 12 meters, or around 3-4 stories the Mayor explained. He would limit buildings to 23 meters outside that area.
He noted that it was important that the Old City retain its charm and will ask that the colors of houses be limited to those that fit in with traditional Lanna architecture. Additionally, he would like to enact laws that implement design standards for new construction inside the moat.
“We must have a lot of public support for this project,” Mayor Tussanai said, adding that even though he planned on presenting the laws to the Municipal Council in August, approval and laws must also come from the central government in Bangkok. “Great public support is needed if they are to listen.”
 


Royal Thai Air Force joins in the battle

Spraying water in a bid to reduce the smog

The Royal Thai Air Force is spraying water at high altitudes in a bid to reduce the smoke and haze blanketing Chiang Mai.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Royal Thai Air Force officers met at Wing 41 on March 28, 2013 to discuss ways in which they could assist the North in battling the smothering smoke and haze that has covered the region. Air Chief Marshal Anirooth Khittirat, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff for Civil Affairs Royal Thai Air Force Headquarters and Surapol Sattayarak, Chiang Mai Permanent Secretary met with relevant agencies to discuss the situation and offer solutions to lessening the concentration of particles in the air.
Air Marshal Anirooth said that 3 BT-67 aircraft will spray up to 3,785 liters of water at an altitude of 4,000 – 7,000 feet (1.2 – 2.1 km). Flying at 150 knots, the planes should be able to cover approximately 1 rai per trip. The Air Force plans on flying 2 times a day, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. with a total of 6 flights. Flight operations will focus on dense urban areas. The amount of dust and smoke will be assessed during the first 15 days and they are coordinating with the Royal Rain Making and agricultural aviation to seed clouds for rain to bring the smoke and haze levels down.
The last ten days of March saw the levels of PM10 over the allowable amount but light rains helped to bring the levels down at the beginning of April. The Thai Meteorological Department is forecasting summer storms and rain as an active high pressure area from China sits over Central Thailand causing gusting winds and possibly hail in the North.


Lamphun villagers receive donations from Italy

Lamphun villagers received cows and chickens from donations raised in Italy.

A group of volunteers with the Italian Red Cross created a non-profit organization, Castelli di Carta or, Castles of Paper. The Castelli di Carta President Mrs. Paola Mazzocchi says, “I’m happy with the result of what the Red Cross Station Three in Chiang Mai have accomplished to help Thai needy families. The Castelli di Carta is an association that has organized several events to raise the necessary funds. Our members are close longtime friends who, after hearing the experience we gained on our 2011 trip in northern Thailand, have decided to join in our solidarity projects. Many of them have offered to help the association by creating handmade items for sale; they have organized charity dinners and accepted the invitation to donate in support of this project for the benefit of needy villagers in northern Thailand.”
From the Christmas Bazaar held in Rome selling many kinds of crafts and household items they successfully raised money for a livestock project assisting needy farming families. The proceeds of the bazaar were used to purchase livestock and were presented by Mr. Pino Ungaro and the Chiang Mai Red Cross Station Three team and cows and 100 young hens were given to families in Ba Pua village in Li, Lamphun Province.


Northern Auto Show 2013 at Central Airport Plaza

The Northern Auto Show was launched at the Chiang Mai Hall at Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport on March 29, 2013 by Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Charoenrit Sanguansat and Wiwat Kittipornpanich of V-Sign Media. Under the concept “Driving 4 Life” the auto show will run through April 8, 2013 and not only has the latest in auto technology, new cars and special promotions but the popular NAS Girl 2013 (Naughty & Sexy) to add some glamor to the event.


Good news for panda lovers!

Chiang Mai’s famous panda Lin Ping celebrates the 3rd year and 10th month birthday on March 27 as Chiang Mai Zoo officials are hopeful that her stay will be extended for a further two years.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Chiang Mai Zoo’s Panda Research and Exhibition announced at the 3 year and ten month birthday of their famous resident Ling Ping on March 27, 2013 that they expect her stay will be extended past the deadline that falls in the next two months after negotiations with China.
Zoo officials hope that Ling Ping will be allowed to stay for a further two years as she is in very good health, according to head of the Panda Exhibition Prasertsak Boontrakul-Poontawee reported. Additionally they are hoping to breed Lin Ping’s parents, Lin Hui and Chuang Chuang this year and are looking for a close signal that Lin Hui will be in estrus and ready for insemination.


New rules for Songkran water throwing

No more pickup trucks!

The “Be Happy Be More” Party in front of Kad Suan Kaew Mall will offer 9 famous Thai bands and singers during April 13-15 from noon to 6 p.m. for those who prefer to avoid the traffic on the moat and the new restrictions on water throwing.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Ministry of Interior has issued new measures in a bid to reduce road accidents during Songkran by asking Governors and police to prohibit people from carrying water tanks in the back of pickup trucks and throwing water from the truck. The Prime Minister expressed concern that the safety of the traveling public was at risk and the Ministry of Interior has issued this order in an attempt to keep the number of deaths and accidents to a minimum. Police will also be enforcing the drunk driving laws and speed limits in checkpoints set up around the city and province.
The Chiang Mai city moat is usually bumper to bumper traffic of people with water tanks in the back of pickup trucks crawling at a snail’s pace around the moat for the three days from April 13-15.


Creative & Design Center opens in Chiang Mai

Director Apisit Laisatrukrai announced that the TCDC Chiang Mai office will offer services and resources free during the month of April, it closed Mondays.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The TCDC or Thailand Creative & Design Center opened their first office outside Bangkok on April 2, 2013 at Muang Samut Road in Chiang Mai City near the Muang Mai Market.
TCDC offers creative and design resources such as a library with over 6,000 volumes of design publications, 70 periodicals and 500 items of design resources in multimedia formats. Additionally the Material ConneXion Chiang Mai Experience offers real materials that world-class designers used to create their works with over 7,000 material database and 250 rotating samples. Additionally TCDC Chiang Mai will offer seminar activities and design and product development workshops as well as design and educational exhibitions alongside creative showcases for emerging designers. There will also be design consulting services and business planning support for local entrepreneurs.
Apisit Laisatrukrai TCDC’s director said the center aims to educate the public and encourage all levels of design and creative applications for economic benefits that are fundamental in the development of the country.


Songkran Schedule

Shana Kongmun
In Chiang Mai Songkran is seen as one giant party, either in the streets around the moat or on Huay Kaew road where people fill the streets dancing and spraying water. However, the Chiang Mai Municipality has issued a calendar of events that includes Sand sculptures at temples along Tha Pae Road and the Iron Bridge on April 14, bathing of Buddha relics at Wat Phu On, celebration of the Phra Singh Buddha image, a local market and New Year’s blessings in the evenings at Wat Phra Singh, Miss and Mister Songkran contests at Tha Pae Gate, and a parade of the Salutation Ornaments with the Chiang Mai Governor from Three Kings Monument to the Governor’s Residence on April 15 from 1:30 p.m. Other events include merit making and the bathing of Buddha images at temples around the city and worship ceremony for the ancestors of Chiang Mai royalty at Wat Suan Dok on April 17 at 9 a.m. The full calendar can be found online at www.chiangmai-mail.com.


Le Meridien Chiang Rai introduces new GM and looks to Chiang Mai

GM Stephen Morahan is joined by staff at the end of the Wine Tasting held at Le Meridien on Friday, March 29, 2013.

By Shana Kongmun
Stephen Morahan, a friendly Australian with a casual laid back approach met with Chiang Mai press at Le Meridien Chiang Rai, a stunning resort that is situated in an idyllic spot on the banks of the Mae Kok river just outside this small but not so sleepy town. Many visitors overlook Chiang Rai as “just a small Chiang Mai” but it is a great get away from the ‘big city’ of Chiang Mai and the slower pace and charming atmosphere sets Chiang Rai apart according to Stephen. “We hope to keep this charm and to help the community in Chiang Rai cope with growth in a way that doesn’t make it look like every other city in the country,” he added, when asked about the upcoming Asean Economic integration and its effect in Chiang Rai.

The amazing 115 year old Sukkasem rain tree sits in the middle of the resort, connected to its mate via the roots.

Le Meridien was constructed around two rain trees, each over 100 years old and named after the famed prince Sukkasem (yes the same one the soi in Chiang Mai was named after), son of King Nawarat, who fell in love with a beautiful Burmese commoner Mamia while studying in Burma. The two vowed to stay together forever but the Prince’s family forced him to marry a noblewoman. Mamia returned to Burma to become a Buddhist nun for the rest of her life. The two trees were named after the star crossed lovers when it was discovered during construction of the resort that they were connected to each other by their roots. The owners declared that they should not be harmed and so the design of the resort was altered so that the two could stay together. A romantic story for a very romantic place.
Le Meridien Chiang Rai employs almost completely local Chiang Rai people as Stephen noted they are committed to their homes and helping the local environment and culture. The resort is based around promoting the senses of the North, from the sounds of the birds to the tastes of Northern foods, the smells of the flowers and trees to the sight of the peaceful river and the young novice monks playing football on the banks at the Wat on the other side of the river.

The calm Mae Kok sits just beyond the infinity pool.

Le Meridien Chiang Rai, like most Le Meridien locations, Stephen noted, is also dedicated to the arts and hopes to bring the local community into the resort for art and wine. He plans on adding a sculpture garden featuring the works of local artists. He added that Le Meridien wants to be a relaxed and cozy place where guests feel at home, indeed offering child care and a play center for guests children in the garden.
Stephen concluded that his goals as the new General Manager would be to increase that cozy feeling, to get away from the clinical hotel environment, to utilize the public spaces more offering weddings, birthdays and afternoon teas on the lawn and wine tastings in the gallery.


Dhara Dhevi welcomes new GM

Hosts a high tea

The new General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Torsten Van Dullemen is joined by his Director of Sales and Marketing Wichai Charoenpanvorakul at the high tea held on Thursday, March 28, 2013.

Shana Kongmun
The beautiful Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi hosted a high tea for its new General Manager, Torsten Van Dullemen, an affable Dutch man who joked that at 194 cm he is now short in Holland. Torsten replaces the outgoing Andrew Abram who is leaving the group to pursue other opportuntities. Torsten started his career with the Mandarin group in 2004 as Resident Manager of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London where he met his lovely wife. He moves to Chiang Mai property from his most recent position as Hotel Manager at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, a post he held for two years.

Torsten tries his hand at making macaroons with a little help from a little friend.

Torsten welcomed the media, consuls and honorary consuls and other Chiang Mai notables to the high tea where he thanked everyone who came and commented on how much he was looking forward to his stay in Chiang Mai. He noted that he had originally come to the Dhara Dhevi on a trip some years back and at the time, commented to his wife that it would be a dream job. Torsten then turned his hand to making macaroons but enlisted a young guest to help him.
Torsten also reminded visitors of the whiskey and cigar evenings held at the Horn Bar and added that he would like to make that a regular event. He also noted that the chef from the Normandie at the Mandarin in Bangkok was now the chef at the Dhara Dhevi.


26th Northern Corrections Products Fair

No keys or cakes!

Chumphon Sattayarak, Permanent Secretary of Chiang Mai, views the many products on sale at Kamthieng Market until April 8, 2013.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Kamthieng Market hosted the 26th annual Northern Corrections Department products fair where Chumphon Sattayarak, Permanent Secretary of Chiang Mai, presided over the opening ceremony. The Fair began March 29 until April 8.
The fair features the products created by inmates taking part in vocational training in 23 detention facilities around Thailand. The Department of Corrections uses part of the income derived from the sales of products to fund the prisons. The program has been found to encourage inmates, offer them a chance to learn a skill and use that skill after serving their sentences.
The Cotton Fair is also running at the Industrial Promotion Center on Thung Hotel Road and will feature cotton textile products from around the North until April 8.


38 dead in fire at Mae Hong Son refugee camp

Chiang Mai residents rally to send aid and supplies

Fire swept through the Mae Surin refugee camp in Mae Hong Son on March 22, killing 38 people.
(Photo courtesy of Mae Hong Son Province).

Nopniwat Krailerg
At 4 p.m. on March 22 a fire broke out in the Mae Surin Evacuatin Center in Khun Yuam District of Mae Hong Son, sweeping through the tinder dry thatched roof bamboo homes, with the death toll reaching 38 after some victims died from their burns at the hospital.
The camp holds more than 3,000 refugees clustered in the valley along the river. More than 100 people were injured and transported to hospitals in Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. Conflicting reports as the start of the fire have circulated with officials first claiming a cooking fire and other witnesses claiming a helicopter had dropped something incendiary. The cause of the fire remains unknown and Thai authorities continue to investigate.
Narumol Palawat Mae Hong Son Governor traveled to the camp with Red Cross officials, government officials and military to assess the needs and provide assistance. Temporary shelters and tents were being erected for the refugees and funerals were held after the deceased were identified.

Members of the RideAsia community raised 80,000 Baht to purchase food and goods for refugees at the camp.
(Photo courtesy of Ron Lister).

Not only have international organizations such as the UNHCR and IOM been working with local charities to distribute goods and provide housing but local Chiang Mai citizens banded together to purchase goods and take them to the camp. Members of the RideAsia motorcycle community quickly raised approximately 80,000 baht to purchase much needed items for the survivors. They purchased such items as rice, fresh fruit, clothing, noodles, toys, activity books, toiletries and delivered the supplies to the Khun Yuam Municipality warehouse, where the goods were received with great appreciation then transported the 37 kms to the camp. Another load of toys and games for the children was delivered on Friday 5th April because it was stated at Khun Yuam that one of the greatest immediate needs was for “toys for the children”.
Other locals including K. Art collected funds and filled trucks with goods for the victims, Central Airport Plaza staff collected clothing and donated boxes of clothing and bags of rice to be delivered to the camp as well while local NGOs such as Best Friend Library and Free Bird Café organized donations and deliveries.


Police blow up suspicious bag

Bomb squad rushes to Thai Military Bank

Police blew up a suspicious bag near the Thai Military Bank on Huay Kaew Road on March 22, 2013. The bag contained only a mobile phone, charger and clothes.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chang Puak Police rushed to the Thai Military Bank on Huay Kaew Road on March 22, 2013 when someone reported an abandoned bag left near the bank. The security guard at the bank found a large black bag on the ground near the bank and called police.
The bomb squad from Police Region 5 were called to investigate. The bomb squad officer used a high pressure water gun to first spray the bag. When nothing happened he went to investigate and found electric wires and a mobile phone. Fearing a bomb they dragged the bag away from the bank and blew it up. Upon investigation they found an iPhone, charger and some clothes presumably forgotten by a customer to the bank or one of the nearby shops.


Fire breaks out in Patan Sub District

Dry grass fed the fire in Patan Sub District on March 27, 2013.
It took firefighters more than 2 hours to put the fire out.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Firefighters were called to a brush fire at 3:30 p.m. on March 27, 2013 that had spread out of control in Tiem Porn village in Patan Sub District in Chiang Mai City. The fire started in an abandoned field, high winds and dry conditions saw it quickly grow and nearby residents were concerned that the fire would spread to their homes.
The area filled with smoke as the fire spread quickly through the dry grass and burned over 1 kilometer in area, more than ten fire trucks were called to the scene to put out the fire and it took firefighters more than two hours to get the situation under control. Fire investigators are checking to determine the cause of the fire.


Chiang Rai police net 140 suspects in sweep

Police netted 140 suspected drug traffickers and dealers in a sweep through Chiang Rai province.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Chiang Rai Provincial Police, Police Region 5 and the Pha Muang Task Force targeted drug dealers throughout the province in a sweep that resulted in the arrest of 140 suspected drug traffickers and dealers.
Royal Thai Police advisor Gen Wuthi Liptapanlop, Maj. Gen. Chamnan Ruwdrew Deputy Commander of Police Region 5 and Pha Muang Task Force and administration officers announced the arrests at Chiang Rai Provincial Police Headquarters on March 28, 2013. The sweep was a bid to clear drug networks operating out of Thailand, Burma and Laos in the border areas around Mae Sai, Mae Fah Luang and Wiang Kaen districts, more than 900 officers took part in the raids.
Pol. Gen. Wuthi Liptapanlop said the clearance was a result of government policies and directives from the National Police to clear the region of drug traffickers and producers. Checkpoints have been increased in vulnerable border areas.


Burgling brothers busted in Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg
Two brothers, Teerasak “Boy” Manorot age 34 and Thanakorn Manorot age 27 were arrested by Chiang Mai police on suspicion of robbery by gunpoint, sexual assault and burglary.
On March 30, 2013 Pol. Maj. Gen. Kasemsan Boonyakan, Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police and Pol. Col. Aksorn Wongyai, Superintendent of Muang Chiang Mai Police announced the arrest of Teerasak and charged him with robbery at gunpoint. He was found with a revolver and ammunition at the time of arrest. The earlier arrest of his younger brother, Thanakorn, led police to Teerasak. Thanakorn was arrested on March 26 after using a gun to commit robbery in the city. He confessed to the police that he and his brother had worked together to rob people. Thanakorn is also being held for a sexual assault committed at Chang Puak.
Theerasak was the ringleader of the two who were suspected of at least ten robberies around the city. Theerasak had been arrested for burglary and sentenced to jail for 8 years, he was released in September 2012.


 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Chiang Mai Beautiful City

Royal Thai Air Force joins in the battle

Lamphun villagers receive donations from Italy

Northern Auto Show 2013 at Central Airport Plaza

Good news for panda lovers!

New rules for Songkran water throwing

Creative & Design Center opens in Chiang Mai

Songkran Schedule

Le Meridien Chiang Rai introduces new GM and looks to Chiang Mai

Dhara Dhevi welcomes new GM

26th Northern Corrections Products Fair

38 dead in fire at Mae Hong Son refugee camp

Police blow up suspicious bag

Fire breaks out in Patan Sub District

Chiang Rai police net 140 suspects in sweep

Burgling brothers busted in Chiang Mai