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Santa Claus was busy this Christmas season!

Chilly Chiang Mai temperatures make it feel a lot like Christmas!

Santa visited kids at Promenada Resort Mall at the Santa breakfast held on December 15. (Photo courtesy of Promenada Resort Shopping Mall)

By Shana Kongmun
The tune “It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas” was certainly running through a lot of heads in the week before Christmas as Christmas trees, carols and chilly temperatures brought the true Christmas feeling to Chiang Mai.

The Four Seasons Christmas Tree is made up of 15,000 Mondo grass plants and is set in the middle of the rice fields at the Four Seasons Resort Mae Rim.

As temperatures dropped and people bundled up against the cold Santa Claus came to town. He first paid a visit to the Santa Breakfast at Promenada Mall on December 15 where kids of all ages greeted him in his luxury car. The kids enjoyed fun and games while the parents enjoyed breakfast. Kid from the Hug Academy performed dances while carolers kept the audience entertained. All the children were thrilled when Santa showed up and handed out Christmas presents for each child.
Santa Claus also joined children from the School for Life sang Christmas carols and decorated gingerbread houses at 137 Pillars House on December 14. Chao Duangduan na Chiang Mai joined the festivities at 137 Pillars House as did stars Owen Wilson and Lake Bell, on a break from shooting The Coup in town. The kids had a great time expressing their creativity through candies and sprinkles and marshmallow Santa Clauses and reindeer.

Kids from Hug Academy performed for the audience at the Santa Breakfast at Promenada Resort Shopping Mall.

Christmas festivities also came to the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai as they held a tree lighting ceremony in conjunction with an Italian Wine Dinner. The amazing Christmas tree, set in the center of the rice fields at the Four Seasons was featured in the New York Times. The 11 meter tree was decorated with 15,000 Mondo grass plants in a living tree. The Tuscan Wine Dinner showcased the talents of Tuscany-born Executive Chef Mario Prestigiovanni and featured wonderful Tuscan wines, braised rack of lamb, risotto and other delicious Italian dishes.

Deputy Governor Adisorn Kamnerdsiri (center) joins the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Four Season Mae Rim with (from left): Wang Ping; Jacky Jin; Natthapimol Chuenduang; U.S. Consul General Michael Heath, Deputy Governor Adisorn Kamnerdsiri, Titiya Chooto, General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai; Chinese Consul General Zhang Weicai, Yukari Fujii and Japanese Consul General Akihiko Fujii.

The Chiang Mai Expats Club held a Christmas brunch at the River Market, the event saw a huge turnout with over 170 people showing up for pancakes and conversation. Many sat on the deck soaking up the sun and getting some welcome warmth!
Christmas festivities carried on through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as Santa made his rounds visiting those who have been naughty and those who have been nice. Let’s just hope he handed out more presents than lumps of coal!

One little guest offered Santa a toy at the Christmas tree lighting at 137 Pillars House.

The kids from School for Life took their creativity to new heights decorating gingerbread houses at 137 Pillars House.

Dave of River Market enjoys the Expats Club brunch with board members Richard Prouse and Charles Burke.

Japanese community celebrate Emperor Akihito’s 80th birthday

Chiang Mai Governor Wichien Puthiwinyoo and Japanese Consul General Akihiko Fujii raise a toast to His Imperial Majesty Akihito on his 80th birthday.

By Shana Kongmun
The kimono clad Japanese community turned out to wish Emperor Akihito a very happy 80th birthday at the Holiday Inn on December 20, 2013. Governor Wichien Puthiwinyoo took the stage to offer Thailand’s best wishes and to thank the Japanese government for their contributions to Thailand. The Japanese government has a community grant program that has aided many Northern communities in the past years. He also talked about the long friendship between Japan and Thailand and the strength of Japanese – Thai business ties. The Japanese Long Stay community in Chiang Mai is a large and vibrant group of retired Japanese citizens.

These long term Japanese residents dressed to the nines to meet with Japanese Consul General Akihiko Fujii.

The Japanese National anthem was then played and a toast was given to His Imperial Highness, Emperor Akihito.
It was then the turn of Japanese Consulate General Akihiko Fujii who spoke in Thai of the warmth and welcome of the Chiang Mai people for Japanese citizens and the great relations between the royal houses of Japan and Thailand. His excellent Thai and sense of humor showed his great care for Chiang Mai and Thailand. He then translated his own speech into Japanese, before the Thai Royal anthem was played and everyone toasted HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej before retiring to the back to enjoy wine, sake and excellent sushi.

From left: French Honorary Consul Thomas Baude, U.S. Vice Consul Jin-Fong Lam, and British Honorary Consul Ben Svasti Thomson.

‘Dr.Doom’ prescribes life in Chiang Mai!

Swiss Lanna Society holds annual charity fundraiser

Marc Faber (center), the well-known Swiss investment guru known as Dr. Doom spoke at the annual charity dinner held by the Swiss Lanna Society at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel on December 12, 2013. Here he is seen with General Manager of the Imperial Mae Ping Peter Schnyder (far left) and President of the Swiss Lanna Society Andy Mannhart (far right). (Photo courtesy of CityNow!)

By Bill Sykes
There will always be plenty of food in Chiang Mai and Thai tourism continues to look good, investor and advisor Marc Faber told a meeting of the Swiss Lanna Society on December 12th. The “contrarian investor” who publishes the ‘Gloom, Boom and Doom’ newsletter gave a talk in English and Swiss-German at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel in aid of the Child’s Dream Foundation.

Internationally renowned financial expert Marc Faber and part time Chiang Mai resident, waived his normal speaking fees for the fundraising event. (Photo courtesy of Imperial Mae Ping Hotel)

As Mr. Faber spends his time between Switzerland and Chiang Mai he has given this part of the world his personal vote of confidence, but was far less optimistic about the USA and China. A big crash will come along soon, but it was just not possible to predict the timing, he said.
Our northern neighbor, the industrial giant with more mobile phones than the U.S., is a very leveraged economy heading for a credit crisis, he said. Much of the information coming from China could not be believed and an important weakness was their dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Members of the Swiss Lanna Society and guests filled the room to listen to Marc Faber speak. The event raised funds for the nonprofit organization Child’s Dream.
(Photo courtesy of Imperial Mae Ping Hotel)

Although the U.S. dollar could no longer be trusted, the U.S. was in a better energy position as it was able to import oil in vast quantities from Canada. In fact, no government or political party, or the Federal Reserve could be trusted, asserted Mr. Faber, and American industry was a power that peaked long ago in the 1950’s. Their debt situation was very bad, there was insufficient capital investment and their financial system was now more vulnerable. Internationally, tensions will rise, he predicted.
On a practical note Mr. Faber said that he was still buying gold, and that platinum looked attractive.
Swiss Lanna Society raised 80,000 baht from the fund raising dinner for Child’s Dream which will go towards a clean water system for a village in the North. A Child’s Dream is a ten year old non-profit organization that is dedicated to working with communities to improve the education and health situation for children and youth in the greater Mekong sub-region including Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Their activities range from health programs, construction of educational facilities, youth employment centers and scholarships for high school and university students. Their goal is to give the members of each community the skills and tools to help themselves.

Skålleagues dig deep for a successful fundraiser

Skål members and guests joined for the group photo before dinner (Photo courtesy of CityNow!)

By Shana Kongmun
Skål Chiang Mai and the North’s Christmas Charity dinner at Le Coq d’Or was a roaring success with a wonderful indoor/outdoor venue with guests greeted by a stunning 1926 Morris Minor antique car. The evening started out with guests purchasing instant win raffle tickets for prizes such as Segway Gibbon, Flight of the Gibbon, subscriptions to the Chiang Mai Mail and CityLife, treks with Tiger Trail, mountain biking and bottles of Nikki donated by Nikki Spirit.

(From left) Lamorna Cheesman of Studio Naenna, David Thomas of Wanna Tours Chiang Mai and Armelle Pennors-Chungcharoensuk of Chang Puak Magazine enjoy cocktails on the lawn before dinner.

The Silent Auction table featured such great prizes as nights at the Rembrandt Hotel, the Legend in Chiang Rai, Khum Phaya Resort, Le Meridien Chiang Mai and Le Meridien Chiang Rai, Mana Thai Village, Oasis Baan Saen Doi, and Anantara Hotels around Thailand due to the hard work of the General Manager of Anantara Chiang Mai, Nick Downing. Other silent auction prizes included a beautiful cotton scarf from Skål member Lamorna Cheesman of Studio Naenna, spa and massage vouchers from Toby and Pakin at Oasis Spa, a Chinese teapot, shirts and bow tie from designer Lawrence Goldberg and a lovely bag from designer Taty – Z donated by Destination Asian Professionals.
Skål member Manfred Ilg, the General Manager of 137 Pillars House, was named in the first annual “Most Active Skål Member of the Year” for the year 2013 for his tireless efforts in supporting Skål with donations, prizes, and suggestions as well as networking on an international level.

General Manager of 137 Pillars House Manfred Ilg receives the award for Most Active Skål member of 2013 from President Annette Kunagigon.

Annette then offered a special thanks to Events Director Tim McGuire, committee member Ineke Martens and her husband Mathy van der Pohl who donated so much of their time and energy in making sure the event was a great success.
At the end of the silent auction, everyone went in for dinner where the Skål Toast was given by Pakin Ploypicha in Thai and by Manfred Ilg in English. After dinner, everyone returned outside to learn of their success (or failure) at winning some of the many amazing prizes and the live auction was held that saw lively bidding and big wins from Ed Hennessey, Rob Waardenburg, and Frank and Vanita Sethi.

Manfred Ilg of 137 Pillars House and Pakin Ploypicha of Oasis Spa gave the Skål toast before dinner.

All in all Skål members very generously raised over 250,000 baht from ticket sales, matching funds from Skål, raffle tickets and the silent and live auctions.
Next month’s meeting is being hosted by Jerome Sim at the Khum Phaya Resort where members and guests are sure to enjoy another wonderful evening with visitors from the new Skål Yangon Club in Myanmar. Sign up online at

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Santa Claus was busy this Christmas season!

Japanese community celebrate Emperor Akihito’s 80th birthday

‘Dr.Doom’ prescribes life in Chiang Mai!

Skålleagues dig deep for a successful fundraiser