Vol. V No. 44 - Saturday November 18, - November 24, 2006
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Numbers of visitors to Chiang Mai Zoo increase this year

80,000 copper leaves on Bo Tree to honour HM the King.

Minivan operators strike over unpaid wages

Wild Sunflower Blooming season draws over 150,000 visitors

Chiang Rai Province braces for severe cold weather this year

Tribal children perform ethnic songs to raise funds for visit to the big city

Numbers of visitors to Chiang Mai Zoo increase this year

Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui, the two famous pandas at Chiang Mai Zoo.

Preeyanoot Jittawong
This year has been quite a busy year for Chiang Mai. Now with the International Horticultural Exposition in full swing, more visitors are expected to visit the north. Amongst the more popular spots for visitors is the Chiangmai Zoo.
Thanaphat Pongpamorn, director of the Chiang Mai Zoo said, “this year the number of visitors has double. The same time last year we have about 1000 visitors a day, but this year we counted more than 2000.
“We expect the numbers to increase in December because we will get Koalas in residence for a few weeks. This will be a unique opportunity for the people of Chiang Mai to see these exotic animals as they have only been exhibited in China, USA, Singapore, Japan and France. They should prove just as popular as the pandas.
With the advent of the cool season in the north, regulars who escape the heat from other parts of Thailand will be coming up in droves and we expect to see over 5000 visitors a day in December.
That will also be a boost for the number of visitors to the International Horticultural Exposition.


80,000 copper leaves on Bo Tree to honour HM the King.

A multitude of yellow clad citizens gather around the Bo tree to pay their respects to HM the King.

Nopniwat Krailerg
One of the main attractions at International Horticultural Exposition is the Bo tree where more than 30,000 copper leaves are made available on which well wishers could write their greetings to HM the King and then attach them the sacred structure.
Adisak Srisanpakit, Director-General of Department of Agriculture said that they had initially ordered 30,000 copper leaves which they thought would be sufficient for the whole period.
But it seems that so far more than 18,000 people have already hung their copper leaves on the Bo tree in honour of His Majesty the King and we expect to run out of leaves in a very short time. So a decision has been made to acquire another 50,000 copper leaves to make a grand total of 80,000.
Adisak added that all the leaves that have been hung from November 1 up until December 5 would be used to cast a Buddha image to be presented to HM the King to celebrate the auspicious occasion of the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne.
The copper leaves are available at 99 baht each, the proceeds of which will be presented to HM the King for use in His Royal projects.


Minivan operators strike over unpaid wages

Saksit Meesubkwang
Minibus bus operators from the northern and central region gathered by the hundreds on November 14, to protest against a company that hired them, claiming that they had not received any wages.
The protest under the watchful eyes of police officers was held in front of the Saeng Tawan branch of the MP petrol station.
Chuchart Aonthung-yang, one of minibus owners claimed that Khanchit Changsuwan, president of Sawasdee Group, located at Pantip Plaza, Chang Klan Road, had hired minibuses in the northern and central region to shuttle visitors in and around Chiang Mai, including hotels, the airport and the railway station to the International Horticultural Exposition.
They were guaranteed a fee of 1000 baht, 1400 baht and 1800 baht, depending on the route.
Minibuses would receive an additional 400 baht for trips to Doi Inthanon and Chiang Rai province. A fare of 450 baht would be charged for a trip to the Chiang Mai Night Safari. The employer also agreed to pay for fuel and food expenses during working their days.
The deal was that the hirer would pay by bank transfer every 10th, 20th and 30th of each month throughout the period of the contract starting on November 1 until January30, 2007, a total of 91 days.
However, the first agreed date had passed and the drivers had not yet been paid. This caused hardships for the minivan drivers as some of them came from other provinces and needed the cash to sustain themselves. Although the company had paid for fuel initially, they were soon running dry.
Mr. Chuchart said that the Sawasdee Group had arranged for negotiations to be held on November 15, but just in case the matter was brought to the attention of the Provincial governor for further action.


Wild Sunflower Blooming season draws over 150,000 visitors

A constant stream of nature lovers go through the Wild Blooming Sunflower fields on Doi Mae U-Khor in Khun Yuam district of Mae Hong Son.

Saksit Meesubkwang
Though the International Horticultural Exposition coincides with the Wild Blooming Sunflower season on Doi Mae U-Khor it has had no effect on the number of visitors to enjoy this marvel of nature, said Narong Nakhonchinda, Khun Yuam district chief officer.
On the contrary it has brought more visitors to the north and so far we have seen more than 150,000 visitors to the festival.
Income from the 2000 visitors who stayed on Doi Mae U-Khor in the first two weeks in November was estimated at 8 million baht which benefited the Khun Yuam district.
Wisoot Buachoom, head of Mae Hong Son Provincial Tourism Coordination Center said that there was some rain on November 14, which could have damaged the flowers but on the contrary the rain enhanced their beauty. But if it had rained incessantly, it not only could have adverse effects on tourism in Mae Hong Son but would also cause the sunflowers to wither prematurely and turn black within a week.
Fortunately there was only a little rain and we can expect to enjoy the beautiful yellow sunflowers for many more weeks to come.


Chiang Rai Province braces for severe cold weather this year

Staff Reporter
Suthep Dejchaisri, head of Chiang Rai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office announced that the north of Thailand could expect the severest and longest cold weather for quite sometime.
It has been reported that residents in Chiang Rai have already started to feels the effects of the cold, especially in high-mountain areas in Mae Fah Luang, Mae Chan, Mae Saruay, Mae Sai, Wiang Papao, Phan, Therng, and Muang districts.
The areas covering 16 districts and 2 sub-districts are home to 146,749 people, including the elderly, disabled, orphans and low income citizens.
Chiang Rai provincial authorities have established a cold-weather problem prevention and solution center at Chiang Rai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office. The office will look out for problem areas and also be a receiving center for donations of warm clothing from the various charitable organizations to be distributed to those in need.
Although the cold weather which is expected to drop to 10c in some areas may bring hardships to some, but it is expected that it will also bring in an influx of tourists from around the country who wish to experience the winter beauty of the Rookchart Gardens, a part of Doi Tung Development Project in Mae Fah Luang district of Chiang Rai province.


Tribal children perform ethnic songs to raise funds for visit to the big city

Tribal children charm tourists with their skills and beauty, and more so by their determination to make their dreams come true.

Saksit Meesubkwang
Tribal children living in Baan Mae U-Khor have come up with an ingenious way to raise money, so that they could visit the International Horticultural Exposition in Chiang Mai and at the same time see the famous pandas at Chiang Mai Zoo.
Ten children have banded together to perform music and sing ethic songs for the enjoyment of tourists who come to visit the Sunflower fields around their village. They hope that they will be able to raise enough funds to pay for their trip to the city.
Visitors stopped by to listen to them and when they were informed of the purpose, happily put money into the donation boxes.
One child told the Chiangmai Mail that he and his friends had heard so much about the Foral Fair and also about the pandas at the zoo. Having only seen pictures of them on TV, they decided that they would really like to go and see them with their own eyes.
With the permission of their school teacher they set up the band and began busking around the tourist areas.
The teacher promised that as soon as enough money was collected, the school will organize a once in a life time field trip into the big city to see the sights that they had always wanted to see.



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