HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Royal opening for new Nimmanhaemin salon

Birthday bash at the newest boutique hotel

Hilltribe in the city

Peace Walk for Gay rights

The Chiang Mai Toyride rides again


Royal opening for new Nimmanhaemin salon

HRH Princess Soamsawali presses the button
to open the new Toni & Guy Salon at Kantary Terrace

Toni & Guy, a popular British chain of hair salons opened their first salon in Chiang Mai on Wednesday February 16 at Kantary Terrace on Nimmanhaemin Road. HRH Princess Soamsawali opened the event and attended the fashion show where well known local personalities such as ML Preeyapun Sridhavat, Honorary Consul of Peru, appeared as the models for a fashion and hair show organized by Ongkarn 'JoJo' Chaiongkarn. The Toni & Guy Essensuals chain of salons also has a salon in Siam Discovery Center and MBK in Bangkok. (Photo courtesy of Ongkarn 'JoJo' Chaiongkarn).

Event organizer Ongkarn JoJo Chaiongkarn is joined by models, designers and the Toni & Guy manager after the fashion show of hair and clothing.


Birthday bash at the newest boutique hotel

MR Malinee (in red) joined Dirk Weeber-Araytumsopon
 and friends for the occasion of Dirk’s 37th birthday.

By Shana Kongmun

Dirk Weeber-Araytumsopon and his partner Wutthipong of the Podology Clinic of Chiang Mai and Bangkok held a 37th birthday bash for Dirk at the Kodcha Sri Thana Hotel on Tuesday, February 22, 2011.

The party saw attendance by such local notables as M.L. Preeyapun Sridhavat, the Honorary Consul of Peru and Montri Wongkasem of Office Plus and the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce who joined Chiang Mai’s very own royalty, Dr. Chao Duangduen na Chiengmai and Bangkok visitor, MR Malinee Chakrabhand at the gala evening. The guests were kept entertained by a fashion show, and fire dancers. A highlight was the appearance of Ongkarn 'JoJo' Chaiongkarn who entertained the gathering with a few songs in honor of the birthday boy. And while demonstrators could be heard outside, MR Malinee Chakrabhand reminded the crowd of the importance of consideration and manners. Dirk Weeber-Araytumsopon presented a 20,000 baht donation to one of his favorite charities and also Dr. Chao Duangduen na Chiengmai reminisced about meeting Dirk and his work for local charities.

The settings of this newest hotel were quite lovely and the evening was enjoyed by all. The evening ran late as Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon visited each table to offer his thanks and a special bottle of skin lotion from his clinic. The crowd joined in wishing him a very happy 37th birthday.

MR Malinee Chakrabhand (in red) joins the Weeber family as Dirk’s mother,
father and grandmother flew out from Germany for the party.

Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon’s grandmother signs
her birthday greetings on the giant photo of her grandson.

Ongkarn 'JoJo' Chaiongkarn entertained the guests
at the party at the Kodcha Sri Thana Hotel.

Dr. Chao Duangduen na Chiengmai holds the check as she is joined by MR Malinee Chakrabhand, ML Preeyapun Sridhavat (second left) and Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon and Wutthipong Arayatumsopon at the birthday bash.

Hilltribe in the city

Greig Phillpot (left) and Stuart Skversky (right)
talk about the founding of the charitable organization.

By Shana Kongmun

Hilltribe in the City is the newest charitable organization in town and they opened their fundraising activities with a bang at the West Side Pub on Thursday, February 24, 2011 with performances by Book Kitavadhana and Ong-Ard Kanchaisak keeping the crowd enthralled.

The evening was a group effort but the idea of starting a charitable organization to help underprivileged hill tribe children that live far outside the city attend good schools in Chiang Mai can be credited to locals Stuart Skversky and Greig Phillpot who met and became fast friends after volunteering at Wat Don Chan.

The organization plans to open a house here in Chiang Mai for Lahu children from Om Koi to board at, and allow their parents to stay as well, and attend schools in Chiang Mai. Red Mango, Miguels on the moat, Nimman Kitchen and Yokkador bar were some of the generous sponsors who donated raffle prizes. Flight of the Gibbons offered the grand prize of a trip for two to the exciting destination.
Interested parties can read more and contact the organization at http://hilltribeinthecity.org/.

Ong-Ard Kanchaisak (left) and Book Kitavadhana (right) keep the crowd entertained with their beautiful voices and great performances.

Paul Cowin (far right) was one of the many helpful volunteers who made sure the launch of the organization was a success.

Peace Walk for Gay rights

Deputy Governor Naruemol Plawat is joined by the speakers to open the event.

By Shana Kongmun

Members of the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Trans-gender) community were joined by Burmese and women’s activists for a Peace Walk that started from Buddha Sathan opposite the Governor’s Mansion and passed through the Night Bazaar on Sunday, February 20, 2011.

Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Naruemol Plawat opened the event as well spoke to the crowd of about 250 people. She was joined by speakers that included Dr. Pra Maha Boonchway of Maha Chulalongkorn University, Dr. Kenneth Dobson of the Office of the President, Payap University, Mr. Aung Myo Min, Director of Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), Khun Kamonsaet Kainkanlurang, Secretary of the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand and Scott Taylor of Soho Bar on Huay Kaew Road.

Pongthorn Chanlearn of MPlus helped organize the event and was joined by speakers who called for non-violence and noted that Thai culture has the ability to accept all people. Aung Myo Min, the Director of the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma pointed out that members of the LGBT community are not a problem for society but an important part of society.

Marchers carried candles to show that, even in daylight, a light needs to cast upon those whose minds live in the darkness of hatred. In February of 2009, a Gay Rights parade was called off after members of Rak Chiang Mai 51 barricaded organizers in Wat Uppacut threatening violence should the parade proceed.

Organizers of this Peace Walk noted that the time was not for retribution but reconciliation and non-violence.

Candles were carried to shine light on the issue, even in the daytime.

Pongthorn Chanlearn of MPlus, an organization dedicated to HIV/AIDS prevention among the sexually diverse population of Chiang Mai, is joined by Scott Taylor of Soho Bar who spoke of the need for working together in a peaceful manner at the opening of the event.

The parade passed along the Night Bazaar before returning
to Buddha Sathan for dancing and other entertainment.

The Chiang Mai Toyride rides again

A Great Day

Best dressed bike winner, piled high with toys (Photo by Shana Kongmun)

By Colin Jarvis

I had a great time on Sunday. I am really looking forward to repeating the experience in a year's time. What am I talking about? Why the Chiang Mai toy ride of course!

For those of you who are not familiar with the event it is the opportunity for people with motorcycles to have some fun and bring a smile to the face of a disadvantaged child. Don't worry the motorcyclists do not take the children on bikes. What they do take, in most cases, is a beautiful cuddly toy which children of all ages love.

The ride started from Tesco Lotus in Khamtieng, travelled around the moat, down south to the Samoeng Road then up to Mae Rim to arrive at the X Centre Zorb Ball Park where a huge party was held. The food was good and filling, the beer cold, the music exceptionally great and the kids were wonderful. What else could one ask for?

The children challenged the bikers to a tug of war and, as usual, the kids won. I promise you the bikers did their best but I think there were about three children to every biker. Later all the toys that had been brought were piled up and the children were allowed to scramble for their favourites. All of them seem to be delighted with their find and I'm sure they will give their toys a good home in future.

The music was superb and I was truly sad when I had to leave at four o'clock in the afternoon. But all this was not the best bit.

I have ridden motorcycles for the last 45 years. I have used them to commute and for touring pleasure but usually in groups of no more than four or five. Last Sunday I was in the body of nearly 100 bikes. The thrum of all these engines was like a weird angelic choir with my own bike contributing its soprano note. As we moved off, led by a police motorcycle escort we were as one body. I felt as though I was a member of a victorious army driving in triumph, (no not on a Triumph, I only have a Phantom), driving in triumph through a country that was delighted to be liberated. I knew they were delighted because they let us through at every traffic light and every road intersection. What a feeling! What have I been missing over these last 45 years? I am determined to do far more touring in Thailand now that I have been reminded of the joys of riding.

All the riders were grinning from ear to ear on arrival in Mae Rim. All the children were grinning from ear to ear to see the crazy bikers and their highly decorated machines.

Next year, if you have a motorcycle of any size, do come on the toy ride. It costs nothing other than the purchase of a toy and a small amount of petrol. But the fun and the reward is fantastic.

The web is full of photographs of this event including the competitors for the best decorated bike, some fantastically beautifully restored vintage bikes and some real beasts. Just put Chiang Mai toy ride into Google and you will see what I mean by a wonderful event.

One other thing I would like to mention is that this event was attended by a man who attends just about every event in Chiang Mai. He is very retiring and modest yet he is always taking the pictures that enable us all to enjoy the events we attend for months afterwards. He is one of those people who helps make Chiang Mai work due to his own fantastic efforts. I thought perhaps I would try to highlight such people in future in this column on and in this case I would like to give my thanks and I am sure the thanks of many other people to Steve Yarnold, Chiang Mai's photographer of record.

Riders prepare to head out, lined up row
by row with bikes decorated with toys. (Photo by Shana Kongmun)

Toyride organizers and participants line up for
a group photo before the start of the race. (Photo by Shana Kongmun)

Kids played games, got their faces painted and won the tug of war over the adults at the X Centre at the Chiang Mai Toyride Party on February 20, 2011. (Photo by Colin Jarvis)