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Chiang Mai welcomes new U.S. Consul General

Michael Heath returns to Chiang Mai

New U.S. Consul General Michael Heath speaks at the podium flanked by the Thai and U.S. flags at the party held at the U.S. Consulate on Thursday, September 26, 2013.

By Shana Kongmun
Michael Heath, the new Consul General of the United States in Chiang Mai has deep and abiding ties to Thailand and has spent some time in Chiang Mai years ago when he was stationed in Bangkok. His lovely wife, Michelle, is part Thai and Michael’s Thai is born from years of use working and visiting Thailand. He comes to Chiang Mai from Beijing, the entire family enthusiastically embracing the change.
Deputy Governor Ritthipong Techapun was on hand to welcome the Heath family to Chiang Mai at the party held at the U.S. Consulate – General on Thursday September 27, 2013, as were members of the diplomatic corps of the business and local community. Michael pointed out that Chiang Mai was no longer a well-kept secret, noting that CNN has recently done a report listing Chiang Mai as the top place to retire in the world. He added that it was very tempting to join the retirees in 3 years when he retires himself.
He was first stationed in Bangkok in 1996 when he met his wife and then again ten years later when he was stationed briefly in Chiang Mai working with anti-human trafficking NGOs, telling the crowd that those two weeks were some of the most enjoyable in his career and hoped that some day he could return.
Mr. Heath added that Thailand is the United States oldest treaty relationship in Asia, celebrating 180 years this year. He expressed a wish to meet with governors, business and community leaders around the North to expand relations. He concluded that they were looking forward to working with everyone over the next 3 years and making Chiang Mai his home.

Deputy Governor Ritthipong Techapun welcomed the couple to Chiang Mai on behalf of the Governor.

Mr. Heath welcomed British Honorary Consul Ben Svasti Thomson with whom he worked in 2006 on human trafficking problems in the North.

Traditional Lanna music was played during the evening.

China celebrates National Day

U.S. Consul General Michael Heath and his wife present a congratulatory bouquet of flowers to Chinese Consul General Zhang Weicai.

By Shana Kongmun
Chinese residents, Chinese Thai locals, business people, government officials and members of the diplomatic corps gathered at the Empress Hotel on Friday, September 28, 2013 to celebrate the National Day of the People’s Republic of China. The National Day is held in China on October 1 and marks the ceremony held at Tiananmen Square to mark the founding of the PRC in 1949. The day in China is marked by a large parade in Beijing and huge fireworks shows. It is the start of a weeklong holiday in China that sees many people travel to their home provinces to celebrate.
Chinese Consul – General Zhang Weicai welcomed honored guests to the party. He noted that not only was the close relationship between China and Thailand between governments but also the people. Chiang Mai has a sizeable Thai – Chinese population and Chiang Mai is one of the top destinations for Chinese tourists, cementing the close relationship. China and Thailand have a long relationship with the Sukhothai Kingdom sending envoys to visit China nine times between 1292-1303, followed by an exchange of craftsmen, and even more frequent relations in the Ayutthaya period. This saw an influx of Chinese settlers into Thailand and the many close ties seen today. Thailand established formal diplomatic relations with the PRC in 1975 and the business relations remain strong.

Deputy Governor Adisorn Kamnerdsiri and President of the Provincial Administration Organization Boonlert Buranupakorn joined the festivities at the Empress Hotel.

Former Greek Ambassador to Thailand and Honorary Greek Consul George Sioris and his wife Oy are welcomed by the Chinese Consul General and his wife.

Local resident Phillip Johnson and Maj. Gen. Bhumiphat Chawiphat share a drink and a chat at the party.

Annual Zonta gala ball raises funds to benefit disabled women’s projects

Dr. Chao Duangduen Na Chiang Mai (center) is joined by Zonta President Raya Luelai (4th left) and Zonta members at the start of the party.

By Shana Kongmun
Zonta International Chiang Mai, the international Women’s organization that is dedicated to aiding women in need around the world, held their annual charity fundraiser at the Shangri La Hotel on Friday, September 27, 2013. The theme of the party was national costume and there were kimono clad partygoers, cowboys, clog wearing Dutch, Chinese wearing qipao and of course, traditional Lanna costumes along with other nationalities.
Zonta International Chiang Mai’s President Raya Luelai opened the evening by introducing the Zonta team and thanking everyone for their support to raise funds for the Mae Chaem Disabled Women’s Relief Fund. The Chiang Mai club was founded in 1997 with 20 women members from academia and the business world and has grown to 30 women from the Thai and International community in Chiang Mai. They support programs for HIV/AIDS orphans and have partnered with the Italian Red Cross that brings life skills to help prevent teenage pregnancies in disadvantaged communities.
The gala fundraiser was attended by a wide spectrum of Chiang Mai society. Dr. Chao Duangduen Na Chiang Mai, the esteemed President of the Chiang Mai Culture Council opened the event and many groups joined to provide entertainment including dancers, singers and others after the speeches and awards were handed out. Mr. Tjeert Kwant of Promenada Resort Shopping Mall’s developer ECC International was on hand to donate 30,000 baht to the charity for the disabled women’s projects. Other donors included the PhueanThai German organization, Horeca, and others. A silent auction was held to raise funds as well.
The evening concluded with a rousing performance by an Elvis impersonator that brought everyone to the dance floor where they stayed until the party ended.

This couple came in matching cowboy
and dance hall girl outfits for the party.

Mr. Tjeert Kwant (right) is joined by Michael Boder at the Shangri La Hotel for the Zonta party.

Raya Luelai, Zonta President (2nd left) is joined by partygoers in costume.

Expats inspired by Lee’s determination to succeed in life

Lee of Akha Ama Coffee joined Expats Club Board members Charles and Richard before the meeting held at Le Meridien Hotel Chiang Mai on Saturday, September 28, 2013.

By Shana Kongmun
Interviewed here in the Chiang Mai Mail a few years ago, Lee Ayu Chuepa’s star continues to rise as this inspiring and personable young man spoke recently at TedX and at the Chiang Mai Expats Club on Saturday, September 28, 2013 at Le Meridien Hotel. Lee is Akha and comes from a small village in Chiang Rai, the first person in his village to gain a college education, and the first to speak English. He told the audience that his parents sent him to the village school for primary as their goal was that his life would be better than theirs and they felt that education was the way to achieve that, he went to a temple school for secondary and finally attended Rajabhat University for college. After college he started working for the charitable foundation Child’s Dream which taught him the importance of giving people the tools to help themselves.
This is what he is trying to do with Akha Ama Coffee, give his family and his village the tools to help themselves, to stop selling to middlemen who take a large cut and to introduce their coffee to the world. This he has done successfully with Akha Ama Coffee chosen three years in a row for the World Coffee Tasting Championships. His sister Jenny was chosen as Northern champion for Indy Baristas, despite having no formal training. Lee stressed that his village was not standing there with their hands out saying “We are poor, help us” but that they wanted to produce a high quality product that people would want to buy and drink. And help his village at the same time. Akha Ama Coffee can be bought at Rimping supermarkets, Kasem Store and in their coffee shops in Santitham and near Wat Phra Singh.

Chiang Mai newcomers Darrel and Wendy attended the Chiang Mai Expats Club meeting for the first time.

The Royal British Legion is promoting the CityLife Garden Party to be held at JJ Market on November 9 to benefit the RBL and Lanna Care Net.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Chiang Mai welcomes new U.S. Consul General

China celebrates National Day

Annual Zonta gala ball raises funds to benefit disabled women’s projects

Expats inspired by Lee’s determination to succeed in life