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Flower filled streets herald the Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Fang District wins Best Float at 39th Flower Festival

Chiang Mai Municipality took third prize for Most Beautiful Float in the Chiang Mai Flower Festival 2015.

Nopniwat Krailerg and Shana Kongmun
The streets of Chiang Mai were filled with beautiful flowers and beautiful ladies as the Chiang Mai Flower Festival Parade set off from the Governor’s Residence on February 7, 2015. Over twenty nine groups participated in the parade with lovely dancing ladies, drum performances and of course, flower covered floats from districts and organizations across Chiang Mai.

Thai and foreign tourists lined the streets from the Governor’s Residence to Tha Pae Gate, down Kotchasaran Road to Changloh to Suan Buak Haad to watch the elaborate floats pass by. Governor Suriya Prasatbuntitya was on hand to release the parade which included a float with Miss Thailand World 2014 Nontawan “Maya” Thongleng.

Miss Thailand World Nontawan “Maya” Thongleng.joined the Flower Festival parade this year.

First place and winner of the Royal Trophy for Most Beautiful Float went to Fang District, Doi Saket took second place and Muang District took third to the great pride of local city residents.

The winners in the Culture Conservation category were Sarapee District, followed by San Kamphaeng and third place went to Mae Taeng District. “Most Creative Float” went to a combined effort from Hod, Doi Tao, Omkoi and Chomthong Districts, while Sansai District took second and third place went to a combined effort from Phrao, Wiang Haeng, Chai Prakan, Chiang Dao and Mae Ai Districts.

Tha Pae Gate was filled with dancers, fireworks and more during the Flower Festival. (Photo courtesy of Harm DeVries)

In the evening concerts were held at Tha Pae Gate and Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival was chosen, during the day fabulous bonsai trees were on exhibit along with cacti, orchids and many others, filling the street at Suan Buak Haad with interested onlookers. There were also plants for sale and many Chiang Mai Districts had set up booths selling goods made locally in their areas. There was, of course, plenty of food to be had and the pink-haired somtam man was one of the most popular.

Inside the park were special flower displays and the many floats were parked in the street Saturday the 7th and Sunday the 8th giving everyone a chance to take their photo next to their favorite floats.

Float organizers took to the stage.
(Photo courtesy of Harm DeVries)

The Bonsai Club’s intricate bonsai trees were popular exhibits at the Flower Festival at Suan Buak Haad.

Orchid growers went all out to win first place with the Orchid Club exhibits.

Skål Chiang Mai meets at historic Baan Jangorpor

Frans Betgem of Tiger Trail Thailand and Skål Chiang Mai secretary with Potjana Suansri of the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute in front of the historic Baan Jangorpor Restaurant.

By Shana Kongmun
This month’s meeting for Skål Chiang Mai featured speaker Potjana Suansri of the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute at the historic Baan Jangorpor Restaurant on Charoen Prathet Road on January 29, 2015.

The evening started with cocktails and mocktails on the lawn in front of the historic building, once the site of the original Pub, according to new local member Margaret Bhadungzong. The lovely 150 year old building was lit up for the event, adding a magical quality to the cool night time air.

Vice President Annette Kunigagon and newest Skål member Supachok “Joe” Buranusilapin of Qooco.

President Tim McGuire started out with reminding members they were welcome to announce events they were having and Events Director Manfred Ilg was first announcing an afternoon tea at 137 Pillars House for Valentine’s Day. The hotel will match and double every tea bought and deliver to people in retirement homes, hospitals, and shelters. Local member Frank Sethi announced the delivery of further proceeds raised from their Bollywood fundraiser last year, asking those who wish to join in to meet at Fashion King at 11 a.m. on February 7 and then travel to the North Eastern Autistic Center to hand over the donations.

Photo of all attendees to the January meeting at Baan Jangorpor.

Potjana Suansri gave a thorough overview of the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute and the importance of Community Based Tourism, explaining that she has been working in community based tourism for 20 years and said that it was important as it created interaction between people of different cultures to learn about each other and give tourists a chance to learn in depth about Thai society and culture. The TCBI is a non-profit non-governmental organization that works in cooperation with research organizations across Thailand with projects in both the North and South.

She noted that tourism can have a huge impact on communities, and not always positive. So they worked to implement a model for the community to work and manage on their own. Target groups include tour and travel agents, students and university students, and government organizations. The organization works only with responsible tour operators and work with partners in ASEAN including organizations in Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, and Indonesia.

President Tim McGuire (right) and Events Director Manfred Ilg.

She added that the key goals of CBT are to learn, share and celebrate local life, offering a tool for development, respond to local development needs and target the needs of tourists. She added that they bring in all members of the community by creating a community fund which can then provide financial resources for those not directly involved in tourism in the community. She called on Skål members to consider the TCBI when booking events, noting that they not only offer on-site events, but products for sale and offer volunteer opportunities. More information can be found online at and

The next Skål dinner will be held on Thursday, February 26, 2015.

Chiang Mai International Rotary meeting raises funds for Mae Tao Clinic

Chiang Mai International Rotary Club president Roger Lindley with Dr. Cynthia Maung of the Mae Tao Clinic.

By Shana Kongmun
Dr. Cynthia Maung, founder of the Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Tak Province, was the featured speaker at the special public meeting of the Chiang Mai International Rotary Club on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at Le Meridien Chiang Mai. Dr. Cynthia founded the clinic in 1988 after the 8-8-88 crackdown by the military junta in Burma to cope with the flood of refugees that fled across the border.

Dr. Maung has expanded the clinic to include not only a hospital that works with the Ministry of Public Health in Tak but also provides maternity care, child care, health education and medical care including surgery but also education and training for students. Dr. Cynthia talked about the difficulties that the clinic still faces and that most people are still afraid to return home, she noted that there were also many people who had been recently displaced as their land was taken over by corporations for construction. She added that despite the ease in conditions in Myanmar of the past two years the need on the border was still great as most of the people living there were from parts of Myanmar that were still seeing conflict from differing groups.

Frans Betgem of Tiger Trail Thailand dropped by to donate vouchers for tours, here with members Laurence O’Keeffe and Colin Jarvis.

Bangkok Airways donated two return tickets to Yangon from Chiang Mai for the raffle as well as prizes from Tiger Trail Thailand, Flight of the Gibbon, and Elephant Nature Park as well as donated items from members including a dinner at Chez Marco. All told the evening raised 103,000 baht which was donated directly to Dr. Cynthia on the night.

Students from BEAM, Chiang Mai University and the Burma Study Center attended the event as well, their tickets donated by CMIRC members and were some of the audience who asked Dr. Cynthia questions about her work, the clinic and its needs.

The Mae Tao Clinic provides healthcare to over 150,000 displaced people every year. More information can be found here;

Rotarians Elsie, Suparie and Chamnan join Dr. Cynthia (center) before the meeting.

Members of the audience asked questioned and asked how they could help after Dr. Cynthia finished speaking.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Flower filled streets herald the Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Skål Chiang Mai meets at historic Baan Jangorpor

Chiang Mai International Rotary meeting raises funds for Mae Tao Clinic