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Bangkok Airways welcomes AEC with 4 new routes from Chiang Mai

Bangkok Airways announced the launch of four new non-stop services from Chiang Mai to Phuket, Udon Thani and Myanmar (Mandalay and Yangon). The new services will begin operations from 26 October 2014 onwards.
Ms. Ariya Prasarttong-Osoth, Vice President – Sales of Bangkok Airways said, “Bangkok Airways will be operating new services from Chiang Mai to Phuket, Udon Thani, Mandalay and Yangon, as we foresee Chiang Mai is another important hub for Thailand’s tourism industry. We consider that Chiang Mai is a major commercial city in the Northern region and also a gateway to Indochina. Chiang Mai is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Thailand, attracting a large number of both Thai and foreign tourists. By utilizing Chaing Mai International Airport as another hub, it will enhance Bangkok Airways’ ability to support the growing demand for air travel when the AEC takes place in 2015.”
The airline is currently offering special web promotion fares on these four new routes; Chiang Mai–Phuket (single trip) starts from just 2,290 Baht, Chiang Mai-Udon Thani (single trip) starts from just 1,590 Baht, Chiang Mai-Mandalay (single trip) starts from just 1,445 Baht (fares exclude taxes and surcharges). Passengers can contact local travel agents or visit www.bangkokair.com or call Call Center 1771 (24 hours) for reservations.
Flights between Chiang Mai an Udon Thani depart twice daily, from Chiang Mai at 6:30 a.m. and 3:55 p.m. and from Udon Thani at 8:25 a.m. and 5:55 p.m. The flight takes about an hour and the plane seats 70 people.
Flights to Phuket will go once a day holding 162 people, departing from Chiang Mai at 2:20 p.m. and arriving at 4:25 p.m. The flight departs Phuket for Chiang Mai at 11:30 a.m. arriving at 1:40 p.m.
Flights to Mandalay will depart three times a week; Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, departing at 11 a.m., the flight from Mandalay departs at 12:50 p.m. while there are four flights a week to Yangon; Sunday, Monday, Friday and Saturday and departs Chiang Mai at 11 a.m. while the return flight departs Yangon at 12:50 p.m.


Baby koala emerges from mother’s pouch

The six month old baby koala, or joey as they are called, emerged from the mother’s pouch the Director of Chiang Mai Zoo Kanchai Sanwong announced on October 20, 2014. The gender of the joey is unknown as the mother koala, named Nam Ping, is very protective and does not let people near her baby. Including mother Nam Ping, father Bryan and the as yet unnamed joey, the Zoo has seven koalas. Koalas are a tree-living herbivorous marsupial native to Australia. The koalas resident in Chiang Mai are at the cooperation of the Zoological Park Organization under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King, Taronga Zoo and Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Australia that exchanged 4 koalas, Fulla, Bryan, Simpson and Coco, with elephant of Chiang Mai Zoo in November of 2006.


Chiang Mai Immigration meets Expats Club

Officers explain policy and plans

Members of the Board of the Chiang Mai Expats Club join Pol. Col. Rutjapong Saravanagkool, Pol Snr. Sgt. Suranut “Kung” Srilapet and Pol. Snr. Sgt. Tawatchai “Nicky” Janngoern before the meeting began at Le Meridien Chiang Mai on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.

Shana Kongmun
The Superintendent of Chiang Mai Immigration spoke at the Chiang Mai Expats Club at a special meeting held on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at Le Meridien Chiang Mai. The Expats Club usually meets on the fourth Saturday of every month but were fortunate enough to have Pol. Col. Rutjapong Saravanagkool and his colleagues Pol Snr. Sgt. Suranut “Kung” Srilapet and Pol. Snr. Sgt. Tawatchai “Nicky” Janngoern so called an early meeting this month.
Col. Rutjapong was introduced by board members Jume Sananikone and Nancy Lindley who told the members that their presentation was based on over 200 questions submitted by Expat Club members and interested residents. Col. Rutjapong welcomed the audience to Chiang Mai and told everyone he had received the promotion to head Chiang Mai Immigration in February, noting he had inherited a very big problem. He said in the two years prior the number of people using the office had doubled as more and more foreigners move to Chiang Mai. “I have learned the charm of Chiang Mai,” the Colonel said, adding that he plans on moving to Chiang Mai once he retires.
He said that Immigration was not prepared for Chiang Mai to become so popular and that the office was just not big enough. They had moved the labor migrants to the office out by Promenada but, he said, “It was not enough.” He told the audience that he wants to extend the office and build a new building, he has submitted the budget but said approval could take two years.

President of the Chiang Mai Expats Club Nancy Lindley presents Col. Rutjapong with some delicious Le Meridien macarons as a thank you gift. He said he would be sure and pass them around to his staff at Immigration.

In an exclusive interview, he told the Chiang Mai Mail that the office processes more than 5,000 retirement extension a year, adding in marriage and education and the officers are finding themselves overwhelmed. Nicky told the audience that most times the officers start work around 7 – 7:30 while they are paid to work to 4:30 p.m. don’t finish up all the paperwork until sometimes 8 p.m. Some officers come in at 6 a.m. to distribute the queue numbers as well.
The presentation was given by K. Kung and K. Nicky where they went over the basic procedures for retirement extensions noting that despite the many changes in Immigration rules, they were not applicable to those applying for a one year extension based on retirement. They noted that if a couple were both applying for retirement extensions they would need to each show the financial requirements individually, so that if using a lump sum deposit of 800,000 baht in the bank then each person needs that amount or 65,000 baht income each month per person.
One change is in the extension for dependents of those on retirement visas or extensions, noting that adult children who are ill or disabled may be given the dependent extension with a certificate from a government hospital. He noted that if the person who is on the retirement extension those on dependent extensions must get their own visa.
They then discussed the basics of re-entry permits and overstays, Nicky and Kung made a point to clarify that the 90 day report is not the same thing as permission to stay and that people should not confuse the two. They then discussed the 90 day reporting system, noting that they realized it was a problem in the overcrowded office. They urged people to take advantage of reporting by mail noting that you should send in a copy of the passport ID page, copy of the visa stamp, copy of the last entry stamp, copy of the departure card and the old 90 day report and include a return envelope as prepaid registered mail. People can also report in person or by proxy, allowing a third party to report, noting that a written power of attorney for this action must be given to the third party.
The officers are hoping to set up a key card type reporting system with Nicky bringing laughter to the audience saying, “I know you find the ‘copy copy’ very boring – me too!” He added that they hope they can have a new system in place by next year, adding that reporting at 7-11 would be a great idea too. He added that there is a fine for late reporting every 90 days but there is a window of 15 days before or 7 days after. However, if you are late you cannot report by mail but must come in person and pay the fine.
Kung and Nicky then went over the procedures for converting a 30 day visa-exempt entry or Tourist Visa (TR) to a 90-day non-O visa in Chiang Mai as the first step in the two-step process towards obtaining an extension based on retirement in Chiang Mai. The office will stamp the applicant’s passport with a 30 day under consideration stamp and it will be sent to Region 5 headquarters for approval. He added that the office no longer has the authority to issue “Life Certificates” for foreign residents needing it for their pensions; they must now get the certificate from their Consulate or Embassy.
Nicky then pulled up some charts showing the numbers of extensions, overstays, 90 day reports and other issues that Immigration in Chiang Mai deal with, noting that the high numbers of applicants has not seen a concurrent increase in officers. He urged people to not wait to the last day to do their one year extensions, noting that they have 30 days before it expires to make the application adding “Every day is a crazy day but if you have to come at the last day then we have a special officer who can try to fit you in if someone is a no show or if they must be delayed.” However he urged everyone to come earlier in case they can’t fit you in on the same day.
Nicky told the Chiang Mai Mail that the Chiang Mai Immigration Office is one of the top 5 earners in the country but all funds are sent to Bangkok and they then disburse those funds as they see fit. The budget for the office must not only cover salaries but also expenses such as water and electricity.
Finally, the officers concluded by saying that the Chiang Mai Immigration Office is looking for ways to ease the burden on users. Nicky told the crowd that he understands things are difficult and that the office is trying to find ways to make it better but asked for understanding in that all budget and major policy decisions come from Bangkok.


Night Safari breeds white tiger cubs

Dr. Sarawut Srisakun, Director of Chiang Mai Night Safari and Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya show off the healthy white tiger cubs at the Night Safari on October 21, 2014.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chiang Mai Night Safari is now home to two white tiger cubs born to a naturally colored father and a white mother, Dr. Sarawut Srisakun, Director of Chiang Mai Night Safari, announced with Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya on October 21, 2014.
Dr. Sarawut announced the successful birth of two female white tiger cubs on September 13 by breeding naturally colored father Jimmy, the six year old offspring from a white tiger in China, and Ploy, a female white tiger from Dusit Zoo. The two cubs have been cared for by their mother and are in good health. Currently, the Chiang Mai Night Safari has white tiger total of 24, 12 males and 12 females.
The white tiger, a protected species, is the result of a recessive gene, it has a pink nose and blue eyes and like most tigers can swim well, is mostly nocturnal and can breed throughout the year giving birth to 3- 4 cubs.


Thai Smile on roadshow to introduce new fleet

Managing Director of Thai Smile Woranote Laprabang (3rd left) is joined by (from left) Wisut Buachum, Director of the TAT Chiang Mai, Pornchai Jitnavasathien, President of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association and Chalermchart Nakarangkul, chairman of Chiang Mai’s Chamber of Commerce.

Shana Kongmun
Managing Director of Thai Smile, the low cost subsidiary of Thai Airways, Woranote Laprabang visited Chiang Mai as part of a road show that the airline is holding around the country to familiarize people with this flights and services. He announced that the airline will be taking delivery of 20 new A320s by 2015 to upgrade their fleet, and are offering Smile Plus seats with extra seat pitch, the middle seat remains empty and food. Miles accrued on Thai Smile will be credited to Royal Orchid Plus members and those members with Silver, Gold or Platinum level will be given the same privileges as on Thai.
Thai Smile offers codeshare flights with Thai and other Star Alliance members and flies out of Don Mueang to Chiang Mai, Phuket and Khon Kaen while they fly out of Suvarnabhumi to Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Hat Yai, Krabi, Surat Thani and Macau. The airline is looking to add new flights to destinations in China and once they do so will consider adding Chinese to their Call Center languages. Currently the Call Center offers English and Thai at 02-118-8888.
Unlike other low cost airlines Thai Smile does not charge for luggage, offering 20 kg free checked luggage in Smile Economy and 30 kg in Smile Plus. Additionally they do not charge for picking your seat. K. Woranote said, “Smile Plus offers the benefits of business class but without the cost of business class.”


Police warn people to beware of financial crime online

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Region 5 Office of the Department of Special Investigation for the Ministry of Justice warned people in the upper northern eight provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao, Phrae, Nan and Mae Hong Son to beware of scam financial investors on social media sites such as Facebook.
Pol. Lt. Col. Somporn Chuenkomon, Director of Region 5 Operation Center of the DSI said that from September 25 to October 10 2014,the center investigated a group of people that created a website and a Facebook profile to promote electronic stock trading for Initial Public Offerings (IPO). People invested between 6,500 and 20,000 baht each and were promised an inflated interest rate. The group also used direct sales teams to sell the investment scheme.
Offering such investment schemes is illegal and people were warned to avoid investing money in such online ventures.


Rotary marks World Polio Day 2014 with US$44.7 million in grants to fight polio in Africa, Asia and the Middle East

With the world “This Close”—99%—to eliminating polio from the planet, the effort is receiving an additional US$ 44.7 million boost from Rotary to support immunization activities, surveillance, and research spearheaded by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which aims to end the disabling viral disease worldwide by 2018.
Polio is set to become the second human disease ever to be eliminated from the world (smallpox is the first). To date, Rotary has helped 193 countries stop the transmission of polio through the mass immunization of children. Rotary’s new funding commitment targets countries where children remain at risk of contracting this incurable, but totally vaccine-preventable, disease.
“It is fitting that this round of Rotary grants coincides with World Polio Day, which we use to raise awareness of — and support for – the global campaign to end this terrible disease once and for all,” said Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko, the organization’s top executive. “Rotary is committed to relegating polio to the history books, and we welcome everyone’s support as we move ever closer to our goal of a polio-free world.”
He noted that the end-game strategy against polio includes the introduction of inactivated, injectable polio vaccine to supplement the progress achieved through the immunization of 2.5 billion children with the oral polio vaccine. Leading that effort is Sanofi Pasteur, the largest manufacturer of polio vaccine and co-sponsor with Rotary of a special program in Chicago on World Polio Day.
About $18.5 million will go to the three remaining polio-endemic countries: Afghanistan ($7.4 million) Nigeria ($8.4 million), and Pakistan ($2.7 million). An endemic country is one where the wild poliovirus has never been stopped.
Another $9.5 million is marked for previously polio-free countries currently reporting cases “imported” from the endemic countries: Cameroon ($3.5 million), Ethiopia ($2 million), and Somalia ($4 million).
And $10.4 million will go to polio-free countries that remain at risk of reinfection: Democratic Republic of Congo ($1.5 million), India ($4.9 million), Niger ($1 million), South Sudan ($2 million), and Sudan ($1 million). The remaining $6.3 million will go toward polio eradication research.
Rotary provides grant funding to polio eradication initiative partners UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which work with the governments and Rotary club members of polio-affected countries to plan and carry out immunization activities. Mass immunizations of children via the oral polio vaccine must continue until global eradication is achieved.
To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.3 billion to fight polio. Through 2018, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match two-to-one every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication (up to $35 million a year). As of 2013, there were only 416 confirmed polio cases in the world, down from about 350,000 a year when the initiative launched in 1988.


Bikes on Board with Bangkok Airways

Bangkok Airways is launching its newest service, carrying bicycles for no extra cost. The service began October 15, 2014 for its entire network except sectors served by ATR aircraft. The special promotion ends March 29, 2015 to give keen cyclists a chance to travel the country. Bangkok Airways is also a sponsor of the Bike Festival at CMU Art Center starting on December 6, 2014.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Bangkok Airways welcomes AEC with 4 new routes from Chiang Mai

Baby koala emerges from mother’s pouch

Chiang Mai Immigration meets Expats Club

Night Safari breeds white tiger cubs

Thai Smile on roadshow to introduce new fleet

Police warn people to beware of financial crime online

Rotary marks World Polio Day 2014 with US$44.7 million in grants to fight polio in Africa, Asia and the Middle East

Bikes on Board with Bangkok Airways