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New President elected for Skål Chiang Mai

Tim McGuire takes over the role of President of Skål Chiang Mai and the North from outgoing President Annette Kunigagon.

By Shana Kongmun
Outgoing Skål President Annette Kunigagon chaired the Annual General Meeting of Skål Chiang Mai and the North held at Le Meridien Chiang Mai. The group of travel and tourism professionals plays an important role in Chiang Mai as tourism to the city continues to flourish, the leading professionals look for ways to connect with other cities around the world and the region.
President Annette noted the recent twinning with the newly formed Skål Yangon with a twinning ceremony to be held later this year and a visit to Yangon by members of the group to learn more about tourism in Myanmar and work on ways to connect professionals in the travel business in the two cities. The group also hopes to twin with Skål Hong Kong and Annette encouraged members to visit other Skål clubs as they travel.
The club voted in Tim McGuire of Segway Gibbon as the new President and Annette, who finishes her term as President, was elected as Vice President. New members Manfred Ilg, General Manager of 137 Pillars House was elected as the new Events Director while General Manager of Khum Phaya Resort and Spa Jerome Sim was elected as Assistant Events Director. Jennifer Croyston of Hot Spots to Travel was elected as Membership Development Officer and Frans Betgem of Tiger Trail Thailand and Shana Kongmun of the Chiang Mai Mail were reinstated in their roles as Financial Director & Secretary and PR & Communications officers respectively.
This year Skal Chiang Mai and the North donated food and goods to the Mae Maeh Orphanage in Chiang Dao as well as provided assistance in building new dormitories for students there. Additionally a donation was made to the Skål Philippines Disaster fund for victims of the devastating typhoon Haiyan that ravaged parts of the Philippines.
After the elections the group retired to the deck of Le Meridien Chiang Mai where General Manager Greg Anderson and F & B Manager Michael Hofstetter hosted the party. Members and visitors then retired to Favola for an excellent dinner prepared by Italian chef Filippo Morelli and the friendly and efficient service for which Le Meridien is well-known.

Outgoing Vice President Marc Dumur thanks outgoing President Annette Kunigagon for her years of service after the election.

Vice President Annette Kunigagon introduces new board members to the group; from left; Jennifer Croyston, Manfred Ilg and Jerome Sim.

(from left) Le Meridien F & B Manager Michael Hofstetter and General Manager of CityLife Magazine Patrick Arnoldus are joined by Le Meridien’s General Manager Greg Anderson on the deck for cocktails before the meeting.

Group photo of all attendees, both members and non-members. (Photo courtesy of CityNow!)


Anime characters come alive at Japanese Film Festival

Akihiko Fujii, Consul General of Japan is joined by guests of honor and cosplayers at the opening of the Japanese Film Festival.

By Nopniwat Krailerg
The appeal of Japanese anime resulted in sold out movies for the Japanese Film Festival at Central Plaza Airport Chiang Mai on February 27 to March 2, 2014. The audience was entertained on opening night by cosplay characters dressed up as popular Japanese anime characters in the lobby of the Major Cineplex Theaters.

Cosplayers were a big hit at the Japanese Film Festival on February 27, 2014.

Japanese Consul General Akihiko Fujii welcomed guests and film buffs to the festival that was sponsored by the Japan Foundation and the Consulate – General of Japan in Chiang Mai. This year the Festival was held in Bangkok from February 20 – 23 before returning to Chiang Mai for the weekend of February 27 – March 2, 2014.
The premiere film of the festival was Garden of Words directed by Mr. Makoto Shinkai, a leading film director in the new generation of filmmakers in Japan. The festival, which featured the animated films for which Japan has become famous, featured the works of many top Japanese directors. The very first animated film was produced in France around 1900 and further developed in USA. An animation film produced by Walt Disney sparked the idea for Osamu Tezuka to create the animated film industry in Japan.

Cosplayers dressed up like popular characters in Japanese anime films for the grand opening.


Music fills the air at the Chiang Mai Fest

Two days of music from around the world

H.E. Robina P. Marks, the Ambassador for the Republic of South Africa to Thailand joins well-wishers and organizers before the start of the show.

By Shana Kongmun
The annual Chiang Mai Fest brings an eclectic mix of both Thai and International musical groups and performers to Chiang Mai for a two day extravaganza of music and cultural heritage. Held at the Promenada Resort Shopping Mall the outdoor concerts saw a fabulous sound system organized by organizers Earth, Wind & Fire. As consultant to the company Yut Wanichanond pointed out, the system was originally going to be used for the Eric Clapton concert in Bangkok but as he cancelled Chiang Mai got the benefit of a world class sound system.

From left Ambassador Marks of South Africa, Chairperson of the Board of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Pensuda Priaram and Deputy Governor Charoenrit Sa-nguansat press the button to launch the grand opening of the Chiang Mai Fest 2014.

Music lovers enjoyed the performances of such diverse and far flung performers as Nigerian born American poet, singer and activist Iyeoka Okoawo, Matthew Mole, the first South African musician to enter iTunes charts at number 1 with his debut album ‘The Home We Built’. Another South African band Hot Water got the crowd up and dancing the first night with their unique blend of traditional and rock music. Other performers included Malaysian group AkashA Malaysia performing music that is a fusion of the four cultures of Malaysia; Malay, Indian, Chinese and Western. Thomas Kiessling of Germany represented the European continent and Indonesian group Kolingtang performed more traditional type music. Popular Thai jazz band Super Ritard took the stage as did Take Two with indie dance rock.

Consultant to Earth, Wind and Fire Yut Wanichanond (right) is joined by friend Montri Wongkasem before the concert started.

Like all events in Thailand, good food was plentiful with the Dukes providing their famed pizzas, lasagna and tacos from Holiday Inn, other hotels such as Centara Duangtawan, Khum Phaya Resort, Imperial Mae Ping Hotel and Rarin Jinda offered western, Chinese and Japanese food while J Restaurant offered vegetarian food and the dusit D2 hotel had their famed bartenders on hand to provide classic cocktails. Rimping Supermarket offered their delicious oysters as well as wine and South African wine was for sale by the Chiang Mai office of the B.N.K Pattaya Wine Company.

The Sound of Siam with Ko Sax Man started the show with a stellar performance of a blend of jazz and traditional music. TAT Chairwoman Pensuda Priaram joined them to perform one of HM the King’s compositions on the piano.

In honor of the South African musicians performing at the event South African Ambassador Ms. Robina P. Marks gave the keynote speech and Deputy Governor Charoenrit Sa-nguansat welcomed the audience and thanked the organizers for bringing such a highlight to Chiang Mai’s calendar. Addressing the audience in both Thai and English, the Deputy Governor highlighted the international flavor of the event, noting that Chiang Mai is truly an international city.
But the music was the highlight of the Chiang Mai Fest and Chiang Mai people were not disappointed with crowds of people taking the free songthaew shuttles from town as well as driving out to Promenada to enjoy the shows.


The first hanging banker?

Speaker at Chiang Mai Expats discusses God’s Banker

Former London police officer Derek Higgs talks about the case of God’s Banker, Roberto Calvi found hanging from a London bridge.

By Bill Sykes
During the current spate of bankers’ suicides – or ‘unexplained deaths’ – around the world, it was a timely topic at the Chiang Mai Expats’ Club on February 22nd at Le Meridien Chiang Mai: Roberto Calvi, dubbed by the press as ‘God’s Banker’ who was found hanging under a London bridge in 1982.
Retired London forensic police offer Derek Higgs was involved in the case - in which the Coroner initially gave a verdict of suicide by hanging. An incredible 25 years later the case was re-opened and re-labelled as ‘murder by person or persons unknown’, which is how the case remains to this day.
Swinging under the north end of Blackfriars Bridge over the River Thames, one of the closest to the city of London financial district, the body had no identification but carried US$15,000 cash in 3 currencies. Bricks in the clothing pockets, weighing it down, were later found to carry none of Calvi’s finger prints! The body was identified as Italian banker Calvi, aged 62, former chairman of Italy’s 2nd largest private bank which had recently gone bankrupt. This led to a financial scandal involving the Vatican Bank, Rome, and Calvi’s arrest.
Eight days before his death, Calvi had skipped bail in Italy. He had also made enemies of the notorious, clandestine, Masonic Lodge known as ‘P2’, the members of which referred to themselves as “black friars”.
Five people close to Calvi were tried for the murder in Italy in 2006-7, but all were acquitted after 20 months due to “insufficient evidence.”
Derek said that it was concluded that Calvi had been killed elsewhere, and the body was taken to the location by boat at night time, and hung there at high tide. His parting shot was to invite the audience of over 100 to look at Wikipedia for further information into the wide-ranging financial complexity that the case revealed.
The next meeting of the Club will be on March 29th at the Le Meridien Hotel Chiang Mai and will feature David Gordon’s talk on “You should think twice if you are ever asked to stand on a Milking Stool”. It will be an amusing journey through his life as an Award Winning Theatre Director where he worked with such Luminaries as Sir Rex Harrison, Barbara Windsor, Tony Robinson, Andrew Sachs, Tom Wilkinson and others.

Chiang Mai Expats Club members enjoyed the interesting talk by Derek Higgs on February 22, 2014 at Le Meridien Hotel Chiang Mai.


Cute dogs and kids at the Smart Heart Dog Show

Dogs were the spotlight of the Smart Heart Dog Show and this lovely dog was up for the Governor’s Trophy.

By Nopniwat Krailerg
Central Hall at Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport was filled with the barks and cries of dogs and kids for the Smart Heart Present Thailand International Dog Show & Pet Variety Battle from February 27 – March 2, 2014. Kulwadee Jintavorn, Executive Director of Impact Exhibition Management Co., Ltd., introduced the 3rd Annual show in Chiang Mai.
The Dog show featured not just the dog beauty contest but agility contests and Pet Variety which included cats and exotic pets such as snakes and others. There was a Northern Champion Weight Pulling and Open Show Competition for the Governor’s Trophy. Deputy Governor Chana Pangpibul presided over the opening ceremony on February 27. Revenues from the event will be donated to raise funds to repair the pet crematorium at Wat San Tai in San Kamphaeng.

Cute kids and snakes! Exotic pets were also on show for the event.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

New President elected for Skål Chiang Mai

Anime characters come alive at Japanese Film Festival

Music fills the air at the Chiang Mai Fest

The first hanging banker?

Cute dogs and kids at the Smart Heart Dog Show