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XII No.8 - Sunday April 21 - Saturday May 4, 2013

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Update by Saichon Paewsoongnern

Who makes the best laab in Chiang Mai?

The Public Relations Department had the party booth, complete with not only men making laab but singers, drummers and even some dancing!

By Shana Kongmun
Well, that answer was given at the annual Laab Festival held pre-Songkran at Kad Suan Kaew. Overshadowed by Songkran this unique festival is organized by the Chiang Mai Reporters Club, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and the Chiang Mai Provincial Office to promote Lanna laab and to give local organizations the chance to show off their laab making skills.

Not only is the making of the laab important but the presentation, as the elaborate arrangement of vegetables and herbs shown here.
The sounds of knives on the chopping block, mostly men, as it is apparently traditionally a man’s job to chop up the raw meat into mince for laab, and using two knives for maximum mincing effect. Laab, originally from Laos, is now widely popular not only throughout Isaan but Northern Thailand which has developed its own recipes that include a broader mix of herbs and spices and normally does not use the traditional lime juice as it is in Isaan. Laab can be made with chicken, pork, beef, duck, fish or mushrooms and most of the laab makers seemed to be using pork. In addition to meat, in the case of chicken or pork, the blood of the animal is used in Northern dishes.
The Professional Laab first place went to Laab Muang Phrao, 1st Runner Furama Hotel Chiang Mai and 2nd Runner to The Reporters Association Chiang Mai. The Amateur Laab contest winner was TV Channel 7 Chiang Mai, 1st Runner Chiang Mai Botanical Garden Mae Rim and 2nd Runner NBT Chiang Mai. There was also a beauty contest, with Wathida Chaisri taking the crown, and members of the public enjoyed testing the various laab recipes on display.

Wathida Chaisri won the beauty contest, Chonnikran Jivakanont placed first runner up, followed by Chonthida Teerasawat, Warisara Chailert and Kanokwan Kamthep. (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)

Lanna World Fest brings international music to Chiang Mai

Showcases Northern talent

Corry Denguemo (right) and Todd Thongdee join together in song to celebrate the Lanna life and to open the Lanna World Festival.

By Shana Kongmun
The Lanna World Festival’s motto “Open Lanna to the World, open the World to Lanna” celebrated the local, national and international colors that make up the “fabric of Lanna.” The Lanna World Festival not only featured Northern acts such as the Booja Drummers of Lampang, Northern Thailand’s own Lanna Commins and Chee Pakakayaw’s Karen music jamming together with Eed Bonglang Sa-On from Isan but also famed Luk Tung composer Luang Gai.

Deputy Governor Ritthipong Techapun hits the ceremonial gong to start the show.

International acts on the stage at Prasertland over the weekend of April 4-7 included “The voice of Cameroon” Corry Denguemo whose beautiful voice was backed by ethnic singers from Songkraw School in Chiang Mai. Cajun funk from the United States came to Chiang Mai in the form of the Gumbo Brothers from New Orleans, LA with the aid of the US Embassy in Bangkok and from South Korean performers of the traditional Changwon City Drum and Dance troupe took to the stage in a swirl of color and beats.
Sitar and Tabla Master Indus Joy thrilled the audience thanks to the Embassy of India and the Indian Culture Center who mixed the melodies and rhythms of India with that of Lanna’s Inthanon. Todd Thongdee produced this music filled event that also featured OTOP products from the four Northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son. Let’s hope he does it again next year.

All of the artists and performers took to the stage with Todd Thongdee, Deputy Governor Ritthipong Techapun, US Consul Kenneth Foster and Indian Consul Dhirendra Singh Garbyal at the launch of the Lanna World Festival.

Lanna Care Net turns 2!

Volunteers and friends of Lanna Care Net met for a celebratory lunch and discussion of the group’s activities on their 2nd anniversary.

By Shana Kongmun
Lanna Care Net, established two years ago by British Honorary Consul Ben Svasti Thomson and concerned residents then enlisted the help of the United States Consulate General in supporting the assistance of elderly expatriate residents. Lanna Care Net does not provide financial assistance and does not provide any services that a Thai person can do, Nancy Lindley, LCN spokesperson pointed out at the anniversary meeting held at the River Market recently. However, volunteer members visit shut ins, travel to McKean Hospital and Dok Keaw Assisted Living home to visit patients, as well as assist with voluntary repatriation, visa maintenance such as 90 day reports, teaching Thai care providers in creating healthy menus, and other such assistance.
Nancy reported that they are seeing an increase in serious cases, up to four a month this year alone. Her comprehensive report covered budgeting issues (interestingly many of those the costs of phone calls) as well as reported the need for a British caseworker to assist with serious cases that require liaising with the British government for resident British expats.
Lanna Care Net provides an invaluable service for many of the retired and aging foreigners that have made Chiang Mai their home and could always use people who are willing to provide transportation, visit shut ins, and just offer a friendly face and ear to people in the hospital. for more details.

Mark Carlson of the U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai (far right) joined the group for their anniversary.

Happy Songkran 2013!

Thousands flock to Chiang Mai for the festive season

The Buddha image is paraded through city streets
(Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)

By Shana Kongmun
Chiang Mai retains its crown as the best place to celebrate the Songkran holidays as thousands of tourists, both domestic and foreign streamed into town. The TAT predicted an added 60,000 Chinese tourists on top of the usual Thai and foreign tourists that come to Chiang Mai.
The streets filled with partygoers beginning Saturday, April 13 and the party continued on through the 15th. Songkran, the traditional New Year for old Siam, originally started out with the simple pouring of water over the shoulder of esteemed elders but has grown into the wild and wet party that fills Chiang Mai city streets from around the moat to live bands jamming on Huay Kaew road with elaborate water systems and firehoses spraying the dancing crowds.

Ready, aim, fire!!! (Photo by Chokdi Khopkhunkhrap)

Tuk tuks joined the streets alongside pickup trucks.
(Photo by Chokdi Khopkhunkhrap)

Tha Pae Gate is the center of Songkran madness in Chiang Mai
(Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)

Tha Pae Gate filled up early, with revelers filling the street on April 12. (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)

Giant sand pagodas are built for Songkran, here at Wat Chet Lin. (Photo courtesy of Chiang Mai Municipality)

The Dodo Bird played to a full house

The Dodo Bird focuses on bullying and its effects on people.

By Shana Kongmun
The Gate Theater Group’s latest production, ‘The Dodo Bird’, by the American Playwright Emanuel Fried played to a full house at the Studio Theater at Kad Suan Kaew April 4-7, 2013.

Stephan Turner is not only the director but plays the lead in The Dodo Bird with his compelling performance in the role of Dodo.

The decision to bring back this important and timely play was not taken lightly. Bullying is a widespread problem in our schools, work environments, and communities. It has been a hot topic for the past few years. ‘The Dodo Bird’ is a play that focuses on physical aggression, threats, teasing, and harassment; all behaviors that encompass bullying. It also explores the perils of alcohol addiction and the effects it can have on the person drinking as well as the family.
Stephan Turner first played the role of Dodo in 1997 with his Stage Actors Ensemble in Chicago. In 2007, The Gate Theater Group opened its doors with their first play The Dodo Bird. Stephan was a compelling Dodo then and he is again in this presentation. His emotional and very touching monologue at the end of the play explains how this particular situation came about. New comer Joel Johnson plays a ‘true to life’ Bull with returning TGTG actors, Jim Matchett and Jeff Lynn playing convincing roles of Mick and Russ. (Photos courtesy of Sarah-Kate Hawkins).

Dancing for the spirits

The Saw Hong House

This man carries the ceremonial flower offerings or “Phan phoom dok mai” as part of the ceremonial dance for rain.

By Shana Kongmun
The Saw Hong House at the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center was the scene of a ceremony not seen in many years, early in the morning of Sunday, April 7, 2013, ceremonial offerings were made to the ancestors and guardian spirits of the Saw Hong House.

Ringing the ceremonial bell and following the water carrier, this man will break the egg at it’s center after the dance as part of the Tong Fah (asking for rain) ceremony.

This was followed by a day of spirit dancing by ethnic Mon people dressed in their finest checked sarongs or longyi as they are known, and smoking the large cheroots, the traditional cigar dance in front of Buddha images, taking breaks only for water and a short rest.
The dance was performed by adults of all ages from very elderly ladies and men who slowly made their way around the hut with graceful movements of their arms to young men and women who danced more energetically. Time was taken out to exit the hut with a “Phan phoom dok mai” or ceremonial flower offerings followed by dancers and a water offering tossed up into the air to bring rain to end the hot season.
The performance went on all day, through the blistering heat, with very few dropping out, and the elderly people showing their great strength and devotion by continuing their slow, graceful dance around the thatched roof open hut. The day ended with traditional sports and activities such as rafting, royal horse riding and others.

Famed educator and Lanna expert, Vithi Phanichphant, explains the ceremony to Japanese Consul General Kazuo Shibata and his wife.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Who makes the best laab in Chiang Mai?

Lanna World Fest brings international music to Chiang Mai

Lanna Care Net turns 2!

Happy Songkran 2013!

The Dodo Bird played to a full house

Dancing for the spirits



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