Maejo University to host National Science Week for the upper North

August 12th, 2012 No comments

CHIANG MAI, 4 August 2012  – The Faculty of Science, Maejo University, in cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Technology, is preparing to hold the National Science Week 2012, for the upper northern region. The event will be held from August 16 to 18, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, at Maejo University in Chiang Mai province.

The National Science Week exhibition is alternately organized by Maejo University and Chiang Mai University on an yearly basis, with an aim to honor King Rama IV, the father of Thai science, spread scientific and technological knowledge, as well as stimulate scientific interests among youths, students, civil servicants, and other members of the general public. It also aims to instill in visitors the importance of science and technology. Youths and citizens will have a chance to share their knowledge and demonstrate talents and skills in the areas of science and technology, by participating in activities set up both by the universities and outside agencies.

The 3-day event features King Rama IV’s scientific and technological achievements, a comic drawing comtest, invention competitions and display of innovations by young scientists.

The National Science Week 2012 in Chiang Mai will be opened on August 18.

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Two Thai policemen arrested in drug raids

August 12th, 2012 No comments

A police major and his two wives were arrested along with one kilogram of crystal meth worth over Bt10 million (S$395,580), guns and ammunitions in Narathiwat’s Reu Soh district, while a former award-winning crime busting border cop was caught with 24,000 Yaba tablets at a checkpoint in Chiang Dao in the far north, it was announced yesterday.

At 10am yesterday, a 30-man security team searched the Ton Khla Restaurant in Reu Soh district, which belonged to Pol Maj Prapan Intharachai, for more evidences after Prapan and his two wives Chanattanan Inkham and Malika Netdaeng were nabbed on Friday night along with “ice” and other evidence including cash totalling Bt405,619, two pistols, dozens of ammunition, and eight cell phones. Prapan was implicated by a drug dealing network in Chiang Rai.

Meanwhile Chiang Mai police announced the arrest on Friday of Police Senior Sergeant Major Wasan Wisarutwesaphu, 45, at a Chiang Dao district checkpoint along with 22,000 Yaba tablets and a pistol as he drove his pickup truck to deliver the drug to a customer in Muang district. A subsequent search at his home in Chiang Mai’s San Sai district yielded another 2,000 Yaba tablets along with guns and ammunition, hence officials were freezing his assets worth Bt3 million totally for investigation.

Wasan reportedly confessed that he transported the drug from the Thai-Myanmar border in Chiang Dao district to Muang district in exchange for Bt27,500. He had done this two times before as he had financial problems, he allegedly said. Wasan had received a plaque of honor as outstanding crime buster in 2007 but he later became involved in drug trafficking leading to the arrest. Police are now looking for more accomplices.

In related news, Surat Thani police arrested Laotian woman Pissamai Thatirat, 30, along with 4,000 Yaba tablets while traveling on a transport van from Muang district to Phra Seang district yesterday. A waitress in a restaurant in Koh Pha Ngan for four years, she allegedly confessed to being hired to transport the drug.

 

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Australian man, 93, on paedophile charges in Chiang Mai, Thailand

August 6th, 2012 No comments

A 93-YEAR-OLD Australian man facing paedophile charges in northern Thailand had allegedly planned well in advance to go to Burma, including withdrawing funds from his bank account, legal sources said.

West Australian Karl Joseph Kraus, arrested on July 24 by Burmese officials in the city of Pa-an, the capital of Karen state, has a scheduled court appearance in Chiang Mai on Monday.

“It was a scheduled (court appearance) but things must have changed now … ,” legal sources told AAP.

They said Kraus had been planning for some time to go to Thailand, having allegedly taken steps to access his bank account.

Officials said Kraus had been living in rented accommodation for a month before Burmese officials doing a check of his documentation found he had entered Burma illegally.

But late on today Kraus’s whereabouts was uncertain after his arrest and being deported back to Thailand last Friday.

Kraus, who was born in Germany, was arrested in June 2010 and faces charges of sexual assault on four sisters on the outskirts of the Thai northern city of Chiang Mai.

Kraus had been teaching English to the village girls, one as young as five, when the alleged abuses began and allegedly continued over almost two years.

He was later released on bail of 400,000 baht ($12,900).

Thai officials say they are concerned for Kraus’s health and wellbeing if found guilty and sent to the local prison.

During earlier detentions prior to being granted bail authorities had held Kraus at a local hospital rather than in a prison cell.

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Chiang Mai is becoming known as a bakery lover’s dream

July 30th, 2012 No comments

Coffee Sound 2499 in San Pa Tong

While Bangkok is crazy about Japanese-style desserts, Chiang Mai, the capital of the North, has its own sweet side as well, with many small and unique design bakeries mushrooming all over the city in recent years.

Bakeries in Chiang Mai have been popular for a while. Around every corner in the city, as well as at significant tourist spots, you can find bakery houses or coffee outlets that serve delicious home-made pastries. Besides quality products, most of the shops also have stunning interior decoration _ from the retro 1970s and luxurious Western furnishings, to graphic art and down-to-earth art studio styles. You will be amazed at the variety.

Among the first to open was Love At First Bite, which first appeared many people’s radar years ago. Since then, the number of home-made bakeries has mushroomed.

Nobody can explain exactly why the businesses do so well here, however, tourists visiting Chiang Mai concede that besides deliciousness and decor, the city’s relaxing atmosphere may also have something to do with it. Chiang Mai’s roads are much less congested and easier to drive on than those in Bangkok. The mountain breeze and a slower lifestyle also instil a good mood into the city’s inhabitants. This is the perfect atmosphere for a bakery lover. Here is a short list of spots worth a visit.

COFFEE SOUND 2499

This retro coffee house, in San Pa Tong district of Chiang Mai, is beautiful. Its contemporary north Thailand architectural style shows in the textured wood, and its concrete structure and tiles. Utensils and furniture from yesteryear fill the place with a 1970s atmosphere. Kids also love the shop as it has toys and a playground.

It is named Coffee Sound 2499 because the shop derived from a loudspeaker business located nearby.

Most loudspeaker manufacturers in Thailand name their shops with the word ”sound” at the end, and the owner built the wooden house here in 1956, or 2499 in the Buddhist calendar.

Coffee Sound 2499 serves home-made baked goods from quality ingredients. No preservatives or artificial colours are included, and butter is used instead of margarine.

The coconut custard cake (45 baht) is the most popular here. It comes with thick whipped cream and a smooth taste that isn’t too sweet. The orange cake is 55 baht and drinks are priced in the 20-30 baht range, which is cheaper than most coffee outlets. This is why this shop has so many regular clients.

Coffee Sound 2499, 80/2 Moo 3, Ban Klang, San Pa Tong district. Open daily, 8am-5pm. Call 081-716-4387.

BAAN HMON OON

This bakery, which also operates as part of a bed and breakfast business, is situated in a lovely English cottage-style house decorated with beautiful furniture and filled with soft music. The polite waitresses make it a nice place to spend a lazy afternoon.

Because of its relaxing atmosphere, clients love to hang around, read and take pictures, and while at times there can be too many people lingering, the shop charges 100 baht for those who visit without buying anything.

Baan Hmon Oon serves quality desserts worth paying for. The most popular dishes are the layered crepe cake (75 baht) served with fruit sauce (strawberry, chocolate or caramel) and the home-made lava chocolate cake (90 baht). The ice cream pancake (90 baht) is good, too. The shop also serves a range of teas.

Baan Hmon Oon, 99/38 Moo 1 Ban Rin, Huay Kaew Road, Muang Chiang Mai. Open daily, 10am-8pm. Call 089-789-4735.

WHAN NOI COFFEE

Its name translates to ”Not so sweet coffee”, and this restaurant turns into a bar after 6pm. It is a place where local artists _ and those who are in love with art _ meet, so don’t be surprised if you find it looking like an untidy art studio in a shady garden atmosphere.

However, during daytime, it is a nice place to enjoy coffee and the bakery. The basic brownie (45 baht) is very good. If you are a coffee lover, the brownie combo set (coffee and brownie) is available for 79 baht. The blueberry pie (55 baht) is also popular and the combo set costs 89 baht.

The ”not so sweet” coffee is served with honey, and Irish coffee is also available.

Whan Noi Coffee, 105 Moo 2, Photharam 1 Road (near Wat Jet Yod), Muang Chiang Mai. Open daily, 10am-6pm. Call 086-670-0153.

MOOD MELLOW

Decorated with stunning contemporary art pieces, Mood Mellow welcomes its clients to chill out and enjoy the bakery in an artful atmosphere, in easily the trendiest area of downtown Chiang Mai _ Nimmanhemin.

The shop was once located on nearby Sirimung Karajan Road, but moved to Nimmanhemin Soi 3 a few years ago for a bigger kitchen. Located close to the main road, the shop is easy to find, however you may need some luck finding a parking space.

Bambino (95 baht), a kind of cheesecake, is the most popular dish here. Decorated with white chocolate shavings and a gooseberry on top, it is rich in premium ingredients and has a slightly sweet taste. The chocolate macaroons (300 baht for 12 pieces) are also popular.

Mood Mellow, 2/5 Nimmanhemin Road Soi 3, Muang Chiang Mai. Open Mon-Sat, 10.30am-8pm. Call 089-118-8000.

COFFIZEBRA

Coffizebra has a stylish black and white decor with chic decorative items and graphic designs to help fill the place with creative ideas.

Air conditioning and wi-fi help to make it a sanctuary for teenagers to meet, and for people to take refuge from the busy road outside.

The blueberry cheesecake is quite famous here, however, the banana assorted crepe (50 baht) is also interesting _ the soft crepe sheet wraps banana, whipped cream and chocolate ganache together. Drinks are priced at 40-75 baht.

Coffizebra, 97 Suthep Road (at the junction of Sirorot and Suthep roads), Muang Chiang Mai. Open daily, 9am-11pm. Call 083-325-0030.

W BY WANLAMUN

Located in Chang Moi Road Soi 2, W by Wanlamun is a hi-so restaurant delicately decorated in a Western style.

If you come here, especially for the dessert, you will be seated in its elegant bakery room where cakes and desserts are displayed in a chilled cabinet.

Because of the success of this restaurant, the owner has opened a new outlet on Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road called Let Them Eat Cake.

All cake here comes in beautifully decorated small portions, making it a nice place to enjoy a break.

French patisserie lovers should not miss the St Honore rose framboise (125 baht), while the chocolate dome (90 baht) has high-quality chocolate mousse covered in a dark chocolate glaze.

W By Wanlamun, 1 Chang Moi Road Soi 2, Muang Chiang Mai. Open Tue-Sun, 11.30am-10pm. Call 053-232-328.

BREAD BRASSERIE

”Butter and no preservatives” is the motto of this bakery, which shares its retail space with Wawee Coffee in Panna Place shopping complex on Nimmanhemin Soi 6, about 100m from the bustling main road. Located in a vibrant area, it is the place people go for coffee and a light meal.

Bread Brasserie is famed for its fresh-baked European bread. You can find a wide selection of wholewheat bread and healthy pastries, while the shop’s show kitchen is open for customers to inspect its cleanliness.

The roasted chicken sandwich (60 baht) is very good with quality bread, fresh vegetables and aromatic roasted chicken. Other signature treats include the garlic bread (50 baht) and the croissants (22 baht).

You can select your bread at this outlet, then order coffee from the adjacent Wawee Coffee.

Bread Brasserie, 30 Nimmanhemin Road Soi 6, Muang Chiang Mai. Open daily, 8am-8pm. Call 053-289-229.

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Dancing for Love and Money in Thailand

July 30th, 2012 No comments

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — It takes great balance to dance on the vanishing line between art and commerce. Waewdao Sirisook, who was born and raised in northern Thailand, went to Los Angeles to hone that skill.

After graduating from Chiang Mai University, Ms. Waewdao received her master’s in choreography from UCLA in 2008. Trained in traditional northern Thai, or Lanna, dance since she was 19 years old, living in the West gave her a different perspective on her work.

“Thai dance is more two-dimensional. If we have full costumes and we have makeup, we’re good to go,” she says. “But in the West, it’s about combining your experience in the dance and always asking ‘What does this mean?’ That helped me look at my work in another way.”

Since then, she has choreographed pieces that focus on the effects of tourism on Thailand, particularly in its northern Lanna region, and performed around the world, including New York’s Lincoln Center, the Midosuji Parade in Japan, the Cannes Film Festival in France and TEDxThapaeGate, a Chiang Mai event inspired by the TED confabs in Silicon Valley.

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Muang Thong thrash TTM Chiang Mai

July 30th, 2012 No comments

SCG are now eight points clear of second-placed Chonburi FC who lost 1-0 at relegation strugglers Samut Songkhram.

At Chiang Mai 700th anniversary stadium, Piyapol Bantao gave Muang Thong a 1-0 lead in the first half.

Dagno Siaka made it 2-0 in the 70th minute and Sarach Yooyen finished off the hosts three minutes later.

At Samut Songkhram, Christian Nade scored the winning goal for the hosts against the Sharks in injury time.

At Thammasat stadium, champions Buriram United suffered another setback as they were held to a scoreless draw by hosts Insee Police United.

At Nong Prue stadium, Pattaya United drew 2-2 with visitors Chiang Rai United.

At Thephatsadin stadium, BEC Tero Sasana defeated Wuachon United 2-1.

Vichaya Dechmitr put BEC Tero ahead after eight minutes and Gilbert Koomson made it 2-0 for the Fire Dragons in the second half.

Substitute Rangsa Rupmoh scored for the visitors late on.

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Head-on truck smash kills eight at Doi Saket in Chiang Mai

June 29th, 2011 No comments

Police blame heavy rain and poor judgement for a collision between two heavy vehicles – a transport truck and a 10 wheeler – in Chiang Mai’s Doi Saket district in which eight passengers died and three were injured yesterday.

The accident took place at about 7.30am on Doi Saket Chiang Rai Road. Police said the transport truck was running downhill and overtook another vehicle but couldn’t get back to its original lane in time before colliding with the oncoming 10 wheel truck.

Police found four male bodies – including the driver of the 10wheel truck – and four female bodies at the scene and took the three injured men, including the other truck driver Nattapong Kaewsukham, 21, to Doi Saket Hospital. Their injuries were so critical that they were later transferred to the better equipped Nakhon Ping and Lanna hospitals.

The deceased were transported to Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital’s forensic department for identification, as some did not carry identity cards.

Police suspected poor visibility from heavy rainfall at the time contributed to the accident, combined with the transport truck driver’s poor judgement.

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Chiang Mai hoteliers ask for help.

June 13th, 2011 No comments

Hoteliers in Chiang Mai have urged authorities to help them survive as their occupancy rates continue to drop year-on-year to below 40% in this low season.

Their own efforts, as evidenced by big discounts of more than 50%, do not help and hotel occupancy rates continue to decline, said Kanok Suwansutr, an adviser of the Thai Hotels Association’s Northern Chapter.

“The hotel situation in Chiang Mai is worsening. The average occupancy rate is estimated to be lower than 40% in this low season, down 10% from 46-50% in the same period last year,” he said.

Earlier, hoteliers expected the situation to recover this year after local political problems eased. But the European financial crisis led to a decrease of international tourist arrivals to Thailand. Moreover, local people are putting on hold their travel plans in the face of the July 3 general election.

The tourism slump in Chiang Mai began in 2006.

Currently, Chiang Mai hoteliers are cutting their average room rates by 40-50% or more than half to attract tourists during the low season. However, the feedback is not good as they do not have enough money to effectively promote their hotels.

Dusit International reported an occupancy rate of the Dusit D2 Chiang Mai at 40% in the first quarter of this year while the Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket posted 60%. Dusit plans to increase room rates in Phuket by about 10% this year but will maintain the rates in Chiang Mai.

“We have nothing new in Chiang Mai. We sell old products and activities. This drives many Thai tourists to neighbouring countries instead since the cost is not much different,” said Chanin Donavanik, CEO of Dusit.

Tourism operators in the northern province view that marketing and promotion campaigns by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for northern provinces are not effective. While private operators are trying hard to jointly promote Chiang Mai and other provinces among tourists in Bangkok and abroad, the impact is minimal due to limited budgets.

They hope the government will help them survive the hard time and organise marketing activities in both local and international markets such as Malaysia, Singapore, China and India.

Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT’s deputy governor for domestic marketing, said it would hold talks with the THA to help solve this issue. He admitted that Chiang Mai is a laggard when compared to other regions. In the first quarter, it grew only 5%. “We realise the Chiang Mai problem as the hotel oversupply has pressured room rates,” he said.

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Detained Burma VJ’s Birthday Marked with Film Screening in Chiang Mai

May 26th, 2011 No comments

A screening of “Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone,” a British television documentary based largely on footage filmed by imprisoned Burmese video journalist Ngwe Soe Lin, will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Thursday to mark the detained VJ’s 30th birthday.

The event, which will take place at a popular Burmese restaurant in Chiang Mai, is part of an eight-month campaign by Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) to highlight the plight of Burmese reporters behind bars.

Ngwe Soe Lin is one of 17 jailed DVB video journalists, or VJs, serving sentences in Burma’s notorious prisons. He is currently serving a 13-year sentence for filming the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma in May 2008, leaving 140,000 people dead and countless children orphaned.

His video records were turned into a documentary by Britain’s Channel 4, and in 2009 he received the prestigious Rory Peck Award, which honors cameramen working in dangerous environments. In June 2010, he also received the one World Media Award in London.

Geraldine May, the campaign coordinator for DVB, said the aim of today’s event and the campaign launched at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand in Bangkok on May 3, is to raise awareness of the lack of press freedom in Burma.

“Ngwe Soe Lin’s detention symbolizes the Burmese government’s persecution of independent journalists. We also want to express our support for him and tell him that we haven’t forgotten him and that we’re fighting for his release,” said May.

According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), there are  26 media workers in Burma’s prisons, which the groups says hold a total of 2,061 political prisoners.

“Z,” a colleague of Ngwe Soe Lwin who is still working as a VJ inside Burma, said that he welcomed the campaign and wished he could attend the gathering in Chiang Mai.

“We are not terrorists or politicians, we are journalists just doing our job of informing the public of what is happening in society,” said Z. “And yet, many of our colleagues are serving long sentences in prison. We need to safeguard journalists, both outside and inside prison.”

Since the September 2007 Saffron Revolution, the Burmese authorities have cracked down on anyone who sends photos or videos exposing government abuses to exiled news media or opposition groups. Many ordinary citizens have also been imprisoned for their role in disseminating images that reveal brutality on the part of the Burmese authorities.

Of the 17 DVB reporters in detention, only five have been identified as belonging to the Norway-based exiled media group: 21- year-old Sithu Zeya, who is serving an eight-year sentence in Rangoon’s Insein Prison; Maung Maung Zeya, who is serving a 13-year sentence in Hsipaw Prison in northern Shan State; Hla Hla Win, who is serving a 27-year sentence in Katha Prison in Sagaing Division; and Win Maw, who is serving a 17-year sentence in Kyaukphyu  Prison in Arakan State.

“For security reasons, we decided to name only five of our VJs,” said May. “We kept the identity of the other 12 secret. We’re not putting the five named VJs in danger, as the Burmese authorities already know about their links to DVB.”

May said that the five named VJs have been tortured to make them reveal their connections, but “We deeply believe that the more people know about them and their condition, the more difficult it will be for the authorities to make them disappear.”

Toe Zaw Latt, DVB’s Thailand bureau chief, said that they were honoring Ngwe Soe Linn on his birthday because the detained VJ wouldn’t be able to celebrate behind bars.

According to May, the campaign that started on May 3 will include one big event per month for the next eight months.

Burma VJ,” a documentary by Danish director Anders Østergaard, highlighted the role of DVB‘s video journalists during the Buddhist monk-led Saffron Revolution. The film provided graphic evidence of the brutality used to suppress the peaceful demonstrations, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2010

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WHO supports probe into mysterious Chiang Mai deaths

May 14th, 2011 No comments

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is fully backing Thailand’s investigation into the mysterious death of a young New Zealander in a Chiang Mai hotel, a senior health official said yesterday.

“Basically, WHO experts are of the opinion that Thai authorities are proceeding in accordance with principles and standard procedures,” Dr Surasing Wisarutrat, deputy chief of Chiang Mai’s public health office, said yesterday.

He added that WHO experts had also suggested that the investigation focus on three likely causes: infection, chemicals and environment.

“We were planning to do that anyway,” he added.

Sarah Carter, 23, a tourist from New Zealand, died mysteriously in her room at the Downtown Inn Hotel in Chiang Mai in February.

Later, in an episode of the “60 Minutes” television programme broadcast in New Zealand, it was suggested that chlorpyrifos chemical spray, usually used to kill bedbugs, might have been responsible for the mysterious death of seven tourists at the hotel.

On Thursday, Chiang Mai Governor Panadda Diskul and officials from health agencies had invited foreign envoys to listen to clarifications and updates on the case.

Surasing said yesterday: “We have been handling the case transparently. We have recruited the help of several agencies. We will try to determine the cause of her [Carter's] death as soon as possible.”

He said a news conference would be held as soon as there was substantial progress.

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