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A Golden Triangle excursion for Skål Chiang Mai

Skålleagues and their friends and guests gathered for a group photo on the lawn at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort. (Photo by Wirat “Dod” Phukhiao)

By Shana Kongmun
Skål Chiang Mai and the North, the international travel and tourism professionals organization headed North to visit their colleagues in Chiang Saen. The event, held at the fabulous Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, was hosted by General Manager Christian Zunk and his charming and efficient Food & Beverage Manager Jirhat Phuthajaroenwat and staff.
Local Chiang Rai Skål members joined in with the visiting crowd that drove up from Chiang Mai and stayed the night at Anantara to enjoy not only the fabulous resort but visit the famed elephant camp and other attractions in the area such as the informative and very interesting Hall of Opium as well as other sights in the area. Several visitors took part in the mahout training course as well.

Skål members Manfred Ilg, David Thomas, and Jenny Croyston and her partner Neil, are joined by John Roberts (center) for cocktails.

The evening started with cocktails on the lawn before everyone boarded vans to attend a lecture by resident elephant expert John Roberts, Director of Elephants and the Conservation Center. Mr. Roberts talked about the history of working elephants and the effects the logging ban of 1989 had on both mahouts and elephants. The Elephant Camp has found a sustainable way to get elephants off the streets, he said, noting that simply taking the elephants away from the mahouts does nothing to solve the problem as the mahouts of Surin (which is where most of the begging street elephants come from) have been working these jobs for centuries and know no other. The Camp takes in both mahout and elephant, offering the mahout not only a good job but the chance to stay with the elephant that he has, most likely, been taking care of for years.

Tim McGuire (far left), General Manager Christian Zunk (center) and Vice President Annette Kunigagon join the staff at the Anantara Golden Triangle in thanking them for the excellent food and service.

John added that he has found that simply purchasing elephants and taking them away from the mahouts will indirectly lead to more elephants being taken from the wild, a situation everyone agrees needs to be avoided. Instead, by offering both elephants and mahouts jobs in eco-tourism sectors, it becomes a win – win situation for both. He added, however, that many of the camps in Pattaya, Phuket and other areas find the elephants and mahouts both overworked and overstressed, forcing them to carry tourists for up to ten hours a day. He noted that the camps in Chiang Mai generally do not do this since the mahouts there are almost all local Shan people who have seen the effects of overwork on elephants from logging in the past. He mentioned the research into elephant intelligence and what they need to be happy that the camp has been doing. General Manager Christian Zunk added that the hotel felt that introducing families and children to elephants and allowing them to get up close and personal and learn more about these intelligent animals then they will grow up to understand the importance of the elephant and its habitat.
Skål members and guests then adjourned for dinner at the Sala at the Elephant Camp and then released Khom Loy into the night before returning to the hotel. The morning saw the group split up and head out to the Hall of Opium and to the Elephant Camp to take part in the morning mahout training class before heading to the river to ride a boat up to the meeting of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos and then to Donesao Island in Laos before heading back to Thailand. The group then headed back to Chiang Mai or off on other adventures in the North.

President of Skål Chiang Mai and the North Tim McGuire greets an elephant at the Camp.

Some of the Skål members and guests took a boat ride along the Mekhong River to Donesao Island in the Special Economic Zone of Laos PDR.


New Presidents installed for 15 Chiang Mai Rotary Clubs

New Presidents of Rotary Clubs in Chiang Mai ready for the procession with their banners.

By Shana Kongmun
The 18th installation ceremony for the new Presidents and Board of Directors of the 15 Rotary International Clubs of Chiang Mai and Lamphun was held on Saturday, June 15, 2014 at GrandView Convention Center with visiting dignitaries Deputy Governor Charoenrit Sa-nguansat, Japanese Consul – General Akihiko Fujii, and Swedish Honorary Consul Supajee Nilubol as well as Rotarians Bangladesh Honorary Consul Rachan Veeraphan and Swiss Honorary Consul Marc Dumur.
The Deputy Governor praised Chiang Mai’s Rotary clubs for their work and dedication to helping the disadvantaged and welcomed the newest club in English, Rotary Club of Chiang Mai International Rotary Club; the first English speaking club in Chiang Mai. The new Presidents were joined by Club Members on stage for the Installation where outgoing Presidents passed on the ribbon for the new President to wear. Included in this group are Chiang Mai Mail’s very own editor Nopniwat Kraileg, now President of Rotary Club of Chiang Mai Airport and well-known expat resident Roger Lindley installed as the first President of the new Rotary Club of Chiang Mai International.
Swedish Honorary Consul Supajee Nilubol also spoke, discussing the hard work of Rotary members and their dedication to making society more equal through projects ranging from water, education, eye care and more. She also spoke in English, noting the international nature of the Club in Chiang Mai and the work that they do, citing their global work in fighting polio.
The evening ended with dance performances and old friends from different clubs taking advantage of the opportunity to meet and talk.

Members of the Rotary Club of Chiang Mai International meet with Japanese Consul General Akihiko Fujii before the start of the celebration.

Chiang Mai Mail Editor President Nopniwat “Jae” Krailerg of Chiang Mai Rotary Club Airport congratulates President Roger Lindley of Chiang Mai International on the charter of the new club and his installation as the club’s first president.

Rotary members were entertained by dancers in both traditional and modern performances.


From avant-garde to amazing; the EU Film Festival wows moviegoers

(From left) French Honorary Consul Thomas Baude and his wife Chamaiphan join First Counsellor Sandra De Waele, Assistant Police Chief Acting Region 5 Police Commissioner Pol. Lt. Gen. Wanchai Thanatkij, Japanese Consul General Akihiko Fujii, and Acting Chiang Mai Provincial Police Chief Pol. Col. Montri Sambunnanont at the opening ceremony.

By Shana Kongmun
The EU Film Festival is always greatly anticipated by film buffs in Chiang Mai and this year the ten day event was held at SFX Cinema at Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center from June 13 -22, 2014. The opening ceremony was held on June 12 at the ground floor where the First Counselor with the European Union delegation Sandra De Waele opened the ceremony.
Chao Duangduan na Chiangmai joined the event as well as Japanese Consul General Akihiko Fujii, French Honorary Consul Thomas Baude and Swedish Honorary Consul Supajee Nilubol. The event was joined by Thai directors Adisorn “Ping” Tresirikasem – famed for his film Bangkok Traffic Love Story, Banjong “Tonng” Pisanthanakun director of hit Thai horror films Shutter and Alone and Nitiwat “Ton” Taratorn who directed Teacher’s Diary and Seasons Change. Actress Apinya “Saiparn” Sakuljaroensuk also joined the opening which featured the German film “Finsterworld” by Frauke Finsterwalder as the opening movie.
First Counselor De Waele welcomed everyone to the event and said that the EU Delegation was very excited to present the popular festival again this year, having already shown in Bangkok, the next venue was scheduled for Khon Kaen. She noted the broad range of films on offer from comedies to thrillers, documentaries and biographies and from Belgium, Germany, Denmark, and 11 more countries. The EU Film Festival is a popular event with both Thais and expats in Chiang Mai and many requested multiple showings of films noting that the long queues meant that many didn’t get to see the movies.

(From left) Pakinai na Chiangmai, Raya Luelai, Chao Duangduan na Chiangmai and Natthaphimon Chuendoung joined the grand opening of the EU Film Festival.

Adisorn Tresirikasem (Ping), Apinya Sakuljaroensuk (Saiparn), Suvannee Chinchiewchan Chief Marketing Officer of SF Cinema and Banjong Pisanthanakun (Tong), and Nitiwat Taratorn (Ton) launch the grand opening.

Locals Tracy Williams, Lieve Deckx, Areeya “Pop” Chumsai, Marisa Marchitelli and Donjai Srivichainanda enjoy a glass of wine before the screening of Finsterworld.

Nuno Caldeira da Silva, First Counsellor Sandra De Waele, Chamaiphan and Thomas Baude chat at the grand opening of the EU Film Festival 2014.


Care for Dogs celebrates 8 years of helping local dogs

Founder Karin Hawelka is joined by volunteers and supporters (and one of the dogs!) for a group photo on June 14, 2014.

By Shana Kongmun
Care for Dogs, the volunteer organization that sterilizes street dogs, rescues and treats ill and injured dogs and rehomes them with loving families, celebrated their 8th anniversary with a party at Liam Suan Dokmai Guesthouse in Faham on June 14, 2014.
The party was held to thank volunteers and supporters for their hard work and dedication to the dogs that are helped by the people who love and care for them. Care for Dogs was established 8 years ago in Chiang Mai by Karin Hawelka and two colleagues who have since resigned. They started the program to help treat the street and temple dog population and help reduce the population of strays through sterilization. This legally registered charity was established in Thailand in 2009 and has around 180 dogs at the shelter with almost daily intakes of new dogs needing sterilization or medical help. Approximately 200 of these rescued dogs will find a new home every year.
The shelter team consists of 9 very important people who care for the dogs, do medical intake and treatment, drive and support charitable contributions. In addition Care For Dogs has to 30 volunteers helping out around the place as well as foster parents for dogs and cats looking for homes. Check out our page Dog of the Week on page 19 or contact Care for Dogs if you want to help, adopt or know of an animal in need. http://www.carefordogs.org/
CARE FOR DOGS 2:New shelter manager Cory Marshman (far right) chats with volunteers and supporters at the lunch party.


Helping migrant workers and their families in Chiang Mai

Five years of education and great food at Free Bird Café

Founder Lisa with staff and volunteers at the Free Bird Café party held on Saturday June 14, 2014.

By Shana Kongmun
Lisa established Thai Freedom House five years ago to fill a need in the city; educating both migrant workers and their children so that they could find a better life outside manual labor. Free Bird Café was started to help fund educational programs including English, Thai, computer class, art and more by selling delicious vegetarian food and acting as one of the few charitable second hand shops in town.
The shop, which is located on the corner of Maneenopparat Road and Sanamkila road that leads to the Municipal Stadium, accepts donations of all clothes and goods and separates out those suitable for donation to refugees, migrant workers and those in need and sells those that they cannot use in the shop to raise funds for Thai Freedom House.
The party was widely attended by friends and supporters, as well as music lovers who enjoyed the music from North Gate’s band The Otherness Ensemble as well as classical guitar from Clark Berger, and Shan dances by Jing their lovely and talented chef. Along with traditional Shan dishes a student’s mother served her delicious home-made ice cream while another student wrote people’s names in flowing Burmese script. Food and drinks were served and everyone enjoyed their delicious buffet. http://thaifreedomhouse.org/


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

A Golden Triangle excursion for Skål Chiang Mai

New Presidents installed for 15 Chiang Mai Rotary Clubs

From avant-garde to amazing; the EU Film Festival wows moviegoers

Care for Dogs celebrates 8 years of helping local dogs

Helping migrant workers and their families in Chiang Mai