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Good Morning Chiangmai News Magazine
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.gifOn-line Edition ContentsFebruary2002



TheTwo Chiang Mai University graduates have suddenly sprung to international prominence in the diverse fields of internet discussion groups and wine making.

Boontham Namhongsa, 24 year old son of a poor Nong Khai farmer and now a communications student in Hawaii, is breathing new life into tourism and other topics as moderator of the Yahoogroup's Asean Tourism Online Forum. Excellent English, a good grasp of the topic and a friendly, relaxed tone have brought Boontham high praise from professionals. He attends the Hawaii Pacific University under the sponsorship of Thomas Steinmetz, a destination marketing consultant who met him at CMU. Read him at e-mail:

Meanwhile Prayut Plangbunta has become Thailand's first ever native wine producer, being totally responsible for the 2,000 rai Boon Rawd Vinery in Khao Yai. Prayut had to learn German to take his advanced international qualifications there and now grows 5 types of grape used in both red and white Thai wines.


Stories in 'The Nation' and some UK newspapers last month predicting an imminent Chiangmai arrest in the Aree Guest House rape-murder case seemed unfounded at our time of going to press.

British police had returned DNA forensic evidence to Thailand after examining it in Wales, home of 23 year old back-packer Kirsty Jones who died at the local guest house 19 months ago. The only firm new fact that seemed to accompany the British police visit was that DNA showed the culprit must have been an Asian man.



Traffic Police signs now lists local driver's offences

Chiangmai Traffic Police have promised a crack down on driving offenders following the announcement that the Province's roads were the 3rd most dangerous in the land over the New Year holidays, which claimed a national death toll of 501 and almost 30,000 injuries.

Between December 27th and January 2nd almost 400 men and over 100 women died, an average of 4 deaths and 215 injuries per hour, the vast majority caused by drunk and reckless motorcyclists. The Public Health Minister's figures gave Chiangmai a tally of 1,000 injuries, beaten only by Nakhon Ratchasima and Nakhon Sawan.

The figures were far worse than last year and over double those recorded in any typical non holiday period. The Minister urged more vigilance in supressing drink-driving and enforcement of crash helmet and seat belt use.

Now it is promised that arrests will be recorded on a computer, that first offenders can lose their licences for 60 days for some offences; 90 days and compulsory driver training for second-time law breakers - and the licences will be revoked unless they can re-pass the driving test.


An unsuspecting tourist will be given the VIP treatment at Bangkok airport in November when he or she is counted in as Thailand's 10 millionth visitor of 2002.

The razzamatazz will be only a tiny slice of the 6 billion baht allocated by the government to boost tourist arrivals this year by 6% to the Tourism Authority of Thailand's target of 10.4 million.

Last year's figures were expected to peak at 4%, half the total hoped for prior to the September 11th terrorist attacks in the USA. Growth up to then had been well on track at 7.23%.

Tourism & culture together

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism will be up and running by October, along with 16 other ministries and 2 bureaus, Deputy Prime Minister Pongpol Adireksarn has announced.

Thailand's second biggest earner after agriculture, tourism, at last gets Ministry status in the big national admin reform - which will also pull in agencies which currently handle art and cultural affairs under the Ministry of Education.


A couple were arrested at Mae Chan near Chiangrai at 4am on Christmas Day with nearly a million methamphetamine pills in a hidden compartment of their pick up. The 40 year old driver said a Mae Sai man had paid him 200,000 baht to deliver the pills to Bangkok. A woman with him was the widow of a drugs suspect who shot himself 4 months ago in Mae Sai as police were about to search his house. The pills sell in Bangkok for around 100 baht each.

Falling fortunes?

On December 26th and 28th, co-ordinated police raids in Chiangmai, Chiangrai and Bangkok siezed assets worth over 200 million baht. A Chiangmai computer shop was said to be a 'front' to launder money for a pro-Rangoon Wa Army commander who sells methamphetamines into Thailand. Police also siezed property from a petrol station and flower shop in Mae Sai.

The Thai Interior Minister described the Wa as "the world's largest drug army". Under a new Thai law, the owners of the assets have 3 months in which to prove that they were acquired legally.

Rising hopes?

A border patrol camp at Mae Chan will be the site of a new 20 million baht drug rehabilitation centre to help Chiangrai Province's estimated 12,000 addicts.


Four northern re-forested areas are among 10 nation-wide to be turned into eco-tourism resorts, says Deputy Agriculture Minister Prapat Panyachatraksa.

"Green tourism businesses" will be developed in Mae Hor Phra, Mae Jam and Ban Wat Chan, Chiangmai and in Tungkwian, Lampang.

'The Nation' reported in mid January that the plan comes from the Forest Industry Organisation - which also plans to solve its liquidity problems by seeking a 50 million baht loan from Krung Thai Bank.



    Click for larger photograph

    Almost! This metal bas relief of a Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero-Sen actually represents an aircraft of the 64th Sentai, wich was stationed here at Chiangmai. Framed in dark Thai timber, each piece is numbered and only 1000 pieces will ever be produced. Made by Thai craftsmen with care.

    Measurement: 24 x 15 x 3.5 cm







New addition to the Chaiyapoom Road sky-line

A third international hotel chain is newly investing in Chiangmai, this time Singapore-based Banyan Tree Holding which also plans new properties in Pattaya and Hua Hin. The northern hotel would be built from scratch during the next 4 years as the company image required a unique architectural design, announced their vice president.

"We've surveyed tourist destinations and found that Chiangmai is one of the favourite places to go apart from Phuket" he added. Comprising a maximum of only 100 rooms, no location for the hotel was given.

Another group is investing in a small, exclusive hotel in a Thai style teak house, while the multi-storey tower block on Chaiyapoom Road near Thapae Gate is only weeks away from completion. Also at Thapae Gate the Top North Hotel, which has been closed for several years, is re-opening after a complete refurbishment.


And harder to come by when you are in dire need! Stocks of some groups are running low in Chiangmai and westerners living here are asked to consider becoming occasional donors. The groups A-negative and O-negative are particularly in demand. If you know your own group and know you can safely give blood, please register with Kathryn McDaniel of Community Church (tel 053 242860) or e-mail to The life you save may be your own!


  • · Chiangmai's Flower Festival, centred on Thapae Gate and Buak Hard Park, runs from February 1st to 3rd.
  • · Expect fire-crackers, dragon dancers and a lot of loud, colourful, fascinating partying round Worawat Market before and during Chinese New Year, February 12th.
  • · A talk on 'The Mekong Nobody Knows' will be given on February 12th at 7.30pm by Steve Van Beek at the Informal Northern Thai Group. Venue as usual is Alliance Francaise, Charoenprathet Road. Transport enthusiasts should note that the March 12th talk is 'The Railways of Thailand' by Robert M.Boer.
  • · Open until February 15th at the Chiang Mai University Art Museum, Nimmanhemin Road, is 'Oman Robot' by Israeli artist Franeis Wittenberger. Modern communications and art together is the theme, 9.00am to 5.00pm the opening hours.
  • · One of the most important annual Buddha days, February 26th, Maha Bucha Day, is a national holiday and all banks, government offices and post offices (except the one at the airport) will be closed.
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