Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fast Facts on Thailand

Fast Facts on Thailand is a section made up of lots of interesting "snippets" of information that we decided to publish rather than just stumble-upon,digest & then forget.

We will continue to update & remove the older less interesting facts as we go along, but this is not just about US, we also need your help!.

If you have other interesting fast facts on Thailand that we have not yet published, please Contact Us we would love to hear from you, and will publish your suggestions with your name & country.
Please Click Here for lots more Fast Facts on Thailand.

Date Added: 31st May 2009

The most popular Thai food dish eaten outside of Thailand is probably Pad Thai, which is quite bizarre, as the origins of this dish are not even from Thailand, but instead from China!.

Date Added: 30th May 2009

The total amount of foreign visitors to Thailand during 2008 was 14.5 million, an increase of just 0.5% over 2007.Of that total 52% of the visitors were from Asia, with Malaysia having the highest number, then Japan, China & Korea. The most foreign visitors from Western countries, came from the U.K., the U.S.A., Australia and then Germany.

Date Added: 29th May 2009

The average pay for a manual worker in Thailand is approximately 185baht/day($5.30/day), in China it is 110baht/day($3.15/day)& in the U.S.A. it is 1,650baht/day($47/day).

Of the 2005 estimate of 39 million working population in Thailand,agriculture employed 42%, manufacturing industry 21% & consumer services 37%.

Please Click Here for lots more Fast Facts on Thailand.

American Schoolkids to the Rescue!

An endangered baby elephant may soon be off the streets of Bangkok, Thailand thanks to some compassionate second-graders at Upper Blue Elementary School.

The students raised $2,000 this semester and hit their goal Wednesday — less than a week shy of the last day of school.

They announced their success through a video teleconference Friday with Lek Chailert, founder of Chiang Mai's Elephant Nature Park.

“I would like to give you a big hug,” Chailert said. “I wish you all could come and visit us some day.”

The time in Thailand’s Chiang Mai province is 13 hours ahead of Mountain Standard Time, so she was leaving work as the students began their school day.

Chailert said she plans to purchase a baby elephant and lead it into a truck with bananas for an eight-hour ride back to the nature park. She plans to take the elephant’s mother along, too.

The population of Thailand’s Asian elephants has been in decline since the country banned logging in 1989. Many of the giant animals walk the streets of large cities, earning money for beggars. Often, the beggars sell people a $1 banana to feed the elephants.

The nature park purchases the animals and provides a safe, more natural environment for them. Some 34 are living in the park today, Chailert said.

The kids decided to help save an elephant while learning about peacemaking through International Baccalaureate curriculum in Ellie Coakley and Cheri Fisk’s classes. Lisa Ferguson, a para-professional at the school, had told the classes about her trip to the nature park.

Funds were raised through hand-decorated coin jars placed in businesses across Summit County, as well as other student activities.

Fisk said about $800 was raised through an event when the kids stayed late after school and their parents made donations. She said the participation was impressive, with everyone in her class and nearly all of the other class participating.

The students participating in Friday’s teleconference greeted Chailert with “sawadeeka,” a greeting in Thai. The face-to-face gave students a chance to ask such questions as “How many babies are at the elephant park?”

Chailert said there are seven calves. A boy was born last week and a girl was born last month.

“We have two baby ones now in the park — so cute,” she said.

Before the conference ended, Chailert held up a couple of cats for the children to see from the other side of the planet.

Source: Summit Daily News - Breckenridge, Colorada, USA - 31st May 2009

Giant Panda Baby
- Chiang Mai Zoo - Update

THAILAND: Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday that the cub was a favourite with children and he would consult with Chiang Mai Zoo on how to allow children to visit it as much as possible without harming it.

Asked if he would negotiate about the cub during his visit to China in late June, the premier said he would first check the contract to see whether the Chinese government could relax certain terms and, if so, would bring the matter up for negotiation at an appropriate time.

Zoological Park Organisation director-general Sophon Damnui said
Chiang Mai Zoo would hold a traditional northern blessing for the birth on a date to be set.

On Tuesday Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti will visit the cub and hopes to give a press conference on the negotiation progress, Sophon said.

On June 8 the zoo will report to HM the Queen on three breeding projects - for clouded leopards, eastern sarus cranes and pandas - chosen to mark her 72nd birthday.

Auditor-General Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka has donated Bt10,000 to China's Panda Fund.

Chiang Mai Zoo's head panda keeper Prasertsak Boontragoo-poontawee reported that Lin Hui and her baby were healthy and Lin Hui's excretory system was functioning normally for the first time since giving birth on Wednesday morning.

Lin Hui has been fed bread, bamboo leaves and apples every two hours and will keep her cub in her cage for a whole month to prevent stress. Veterinarian Kannikar Nimtrakul massaged Lin Hui to ease muscle strains from cradling the cub in her arms. Chiang Mai Zoo has installed more CCTV screens for real-time observation of the mother and cub, and the number of visitors to the panda section has been reduced to prevent disturbance of keepers' work.

The Chiang Mai Land Transport Office responded to the panda fever with an announcement yesterday that it would put a picture of the cub on car registration plates to be auctioned in November.

Office chief Assathai Rattanadilok na Phuket said it was also asking the Land Transport Department to allow Chiang Mai drivers to apply for smart-card licences with a background of the panda family, including father Chuang Chuang.

In Chiang Mai, panda dolls have become a hot sales item and prices have risen in the wake of Thailand's first panda birth.

"Thanks to the cub, the number of tourists should rise at least 10 per cent this year," said Chalermsak Suranant, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Chiang Mai office.

Last year, 5 million tourists visited Chiang Mai, generating Bt38 billion in revenue.

Although tourism in Chiang Mai has slumped 50 per cent during the first five months of the year, an uptrend is now in sight.

"This is good news for Chiang Mai, and we're delighted," said Chalermsak.

Following failed efforts to have the panda pair mate naturally, Lin Hui underwent artificial insemination on February 18 and was not confirmed pregnant despite suggestive signs until Wednesday morning, when she produced the 230-gram female cub.

Source: Asia One News 31st May 2009

Jumbo Ban for Bangkok

New Elephant Act set to block Bangkok's mahouts with big fines, microchip implants

BANGKOK: -- After surveys found 74 elephants wandering the streets of Bangkok, the Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has joined forces with the Livestock Development Department to arrest anyone bringing an elephant into the city.

Deputy BMA governor Theerachon Manomaipibul said yesterday that repeat offenders would be warned three times after which they would be fined up to Bt50,000 and have their elephants sent home.

Theerachon spoke after a meeting of related agencies had agreed to survey the number of Bangkok's elephants again next month. This followup survey will check the elephants for the BMA's microchip devices and give Chulalongkorn and Mahidol universities the chance to test elephants' DNA to find out if any have been smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

Back to Nature:
Theerachon added that Ayutthaya's Wang Chang elephant camp and Pattaya's Suan Nong Nuch park have offered to buy elephants and hire their mahouts, while the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation has said it will pay Bt500,000/Bt1 million for any elephant whose mahout can not afford to keep it.

On June 23rd-25th the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will consult the public ahead of drafting the new Elephant Act, a longterm solution to the problem that will legislate for microchipping elephants and make it illegal to use them for human transport.

The BMA also has plans to host a concert to promote elephant welfare. Artists and musicians including AssaneeWasan Chotikul, Paula Taylor and Yeunyong "Add Carabao" Opakul have already accepted invitations, said Theerachon.

Source: The Nation 30th May 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chiang Mai City Pillar Festival

The annual Chiang Mai City Pillar Ceremony, or Inthakhin Ceremony, has just taken place at Wat Chedi Luang in the center of the old city, the event took place between 20th - 27th May, and is revered as one of the most important festivals in the Chiang Mai calender.

Chiang Mai annually celebrates Inthakhin for seven auspicious days starting from the 12th night of the waning moon in the 8th lunar month, which usually falls during the 2nd half of May & the 1st week of June.

Legend has it that the ceremony will bring good blessings to both participants at the festival and the city of Chiang Mai itself, and that the rains will fall in abundance to bring a bountiful harvest.

On the first day of the festival, a Buddha image of Phra Chao Fon Saen Ha will be paraded around Chiang Mai city while locals wait along the street side to sprinkle blessed water (Nam Som Poi) to the statue.

When the Buddha image returns to Wat Chedi Luang Temple, the ritual of flower offerings begins. People in Chiang Mai know Inthakhin ceremony as Tam Boon Khan Dok or Sai Khan Dok.

The name of the ceremony is derived from the ritual of Making Merit to the city pillar by offering flowers, incense and candles to 32 trays that lay around a Viharn of Inthakhin.

Chiang Mai City Pillar-Inthakhin Ceremony 2009-Offering Flowers
Apart from offering flowers to the thirty-two trays, making merit by donating money to your own Buddha image (based on day of birth) is also believed to bring good luck to the donor.

There are also evening traditional events featured every night within the temple, including traditional performances of sword dancing and lance dancing. Visitors will also enjoy listening to local Northern Thailand traditional music.

The ceremony ends on the seventh day with closing chants from 108 monks gathered at Wat Chedi Luang.

Jumbo Fatality

A man looks at a dead elephant which is believed to have died from eating cabbages contaminated with chemicals in Chiang Mai’s MaeTaeng district yesterday.

Two elephants were caught up in separate tragedies yesterday. One was poisoned to death after eating crops in Chiang Mai, while the other suffered for 12 hours without help after having its legs broken in a road accident in Sa Kaeo.

Officials rushed to Sa Kaeo province's Chong Tako mountain at 2pm where they used a crane to lift the pachyderm, weighing about two tonnes, on to a military vehicle which transported it to an elephant hospital in Surin province.

Veterinarians said the elephant, "Pang Taen", suffered severe injuries to the legs and head,but she was now safe. They are planning further treatment.

"Pang Taen", a 10-year-old female elephant, was thrown from a truck and crushed by it when the driver lost control of the vehicle while driving down Chong Tako mountain in Sa Kaeo's Ta Phraya district yesterday.

Lying on one side, Pang Taen frequently shrieked in pain. Only the tears coming out of her eyes seemed to offer a break of relief in her long, desperate wait for rescue.

The accident killed Liang Sala-ngam, 57, on the spot while six others, including a boy, was wounded.

They were all travelling in the 10-wheel truck en route to an elephant camp in Pattaya to take Pang Taen for breeding.

Somsak Salangam, the elephant's owner from Surin province, was not injured because he was not in the truck when it slid down the hillside.

Earlier, the driver stopped the vehicle and asked Mr Somsak to block its wheels with logs and rocks. The accident occurred just before he finished the job.

Hema Sapmak, village head of Pon Ngern in Buri Ram's Satuk district, which is famous for elephant training camps, was deeply saddened when he learned of Pang Taen's tragedy.

He called upon the government to make more serious efforts to help Owners & Mahouts countrywide who cannot earn enough money to feed their elephants and are forced to earn more by taking them to work in distant provinces.

He said more than 60 elephants had left his neighbourhood for work, leaving only three in the village.

In Chiang Mai, officials are searching for two further elephants who had eaten cabbages believed to be contaminated with pesticides after "Plai Somjai", a 16-year-old male pachyderm from an elephant camp in Mae Taeng district, died after eating the vegetables at a local farm.

The two had reportedly fallen sick and escaped deep into a local forest, it is not known at this point their condition, but it is feared they may also suffer the same fate as "Plai Somjai"!.

Source: Bangkok Post 30th May 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Bridge of Life
- Northern Thailand

A retired American businessman, and a Serbian engineer have joined together to provide children from four of Thailand’s diverse rural hill tribes with a better future through the establishment of a residential village in Phrao, northern Thailand.

The mission statement of the Bridge of Life is quite simple. "We try everyday to make a difference in the lives of children. Our goal is for children to be allowed to be children.We want to preserve this magic time of life".

"Children of all color, religion, ethnicity - just let kids be kids!".

Please click here to read the full article: The Bridge of Life

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Giant Panda Gives Birth
at Chiang Mai Zoo

Bangkok - A Panda, on loan from China, gave birth to a healthy cub Wednesday at Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo, officials said. "Today Lin Hui delivered a cub at 10:10 am," Chiang Mai Zoo director Thanaphat Pongphamon said in a telephone interview with German Press Agency dpa.

The sex and weight of the baby panda was not immediately known as Lin Hui, the mother, refused to allow zoo officials near the baby, Thanaphat said.

The birth was hailed as a success for the Chiang Mai Zoo ,700 kilometres north of Bangkok, which has pursued every means over the past six year to make Lin Hui, 7 years old, and her mate Chuang Chuang, 8, conceive.

At one point, frustrated zoo officials resorted to showing "panda porn" videos to the bear pair in an effort to stir their passions.

Finally, artificial insemination was resorted to.

Lin Hui was pregnant for 93 days, and the birth was without complications, Thanaphat said.

The panda couple have been the zoo's main attraction since their arrival from China in October 12, 2003.

The zoo has done a profitable sideline selling panda paraphernalia, including panda poop that was snapped up like hot cakes when it was first was proffered to the public.

Source: Earth Times 27th May 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Patara Elephant Farm
- "Elephant Owner for a Day"!

While planning our trip to Thailand, I was looking for a wildlife adventure that would allow us to interact with the animals rather than just view them in a zoo type setting -- or even worse interact with them in a carnival/circus type atmosphere.

Whilst "surfing the net" one day I came across the Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai. After investigating the site further I found a "tab" headed "Elephant Owner for a Day" and thought, this is it, this is the program we have been looking for!, I quickly emailed the farm owner Theerapat Trungprkan(Pat for short)to reserve our spot and adjusted our itinerary to spend a few days in Chiang Mai.

Please click here to read the full article: The Patara Elephant Farm.

Plant With Purpose - Northern Thailand

From their humble beginnings in the Dominican Republic back in 1984, Plant With Purpose, an environmental non-profit organization, has grown tremendously through the visionary guidance of its American custodians.

The ethos of the company is to bring a holistic approach to the fight against poverty that includes environmental, economic, as well as spiritual transformation.

"We believe that this three-part approach is the key to creating lasting, sustainable change, and we use a variety of techniques such as micro-credit loans, business skills training and community development to empower the poor to solve their own problems," said Scott Sabin, Plant With Purpose’s Executive Director.

Plant With Purpose programs now cover more than 230 villages worldwide, and since 1984 they have helped more than 100,000 under-privileged people in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Thailand, Burundi and Tanzania.

Please click here to read full article:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chiang Mai -
Tourism Fair Announced

The public and private sectors are getting together to offer a tourism fair and golf promotion in Chiang Mai in a bid to lure visitors during the low season.

The province and private operators will hold the Chiang Mai Grand Sales 2009 event from May 31 to August 2, Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanant said.

Department stores, hotels, restaurants and shops in Chiang Mai will offer 30- to 70-per-cent discounts during the three-month fair.

"There will be about 300 participants, with 100 hotels, 50 restaurants, 50 spas, 30 golf courses, 20 tourist attractions and others joining the promotion. The province will spend Bt1.5 million to host the event," Amornphan said.

The fair is aimed at encouraging tourists to visit Chiang Mai in the coming low season, as well as to revive the tourism business, which has suffered from declining numbers of visitors due to the economic crisis.

It is expected to generate Bt100 million in revenue for the province.

Chalermsak Suranant, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Chiang Mai office, said the agency plans to launch a golf campaign from May 1 to June 30.

Golf course operators will offer a single green fee of Bt800 per time during the promotion. TAT is developing Chiang Mai to become a major golf destination.

Source: The Nation 11th May 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Friends for Asia - Chiang Mai

The aim of Friends For Asia is to provide both short and long term volunteer projects that benefit local communities with their development and volunteers with the valuable experience they gain from their service to the local communities.

The mission of Friends For Asia is as follows:
We offer an opportunity for people to contribute, in a meaningful way, to the improvement of standards of living by building capacity in our host agencies and we provide committed volunteers to work on projects developed with host agencies that benefit the people of Northern Thailand.

Please Click Here to read the full article.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Massive Shopping Mall
in Chiang Mai Still Going Ahead !

ECC Group, a Netherlands-based retail developer, strongly believes Chiang Mai has room for up to two retail newcomers and that the company will achieve success as one of these operators.

CEO Tjeert Kwant recently said Chiang Mai had been developed in many respects such as residential projects, hotels and resorts and entertainment business over the past decade - but not so in the shopping-mall sector.

Only Central Retail Corp had announced plans to add another mall in Chiang Mai, while plenty of property developers, tourism and entertainment operators have continued to arrive in the northern city.

ECC Group early this year announced a plan to invest Bt3.1 billion to build the Promenada Chiang Mai shopping mall in the province. The plan remains on track despite the uncertain economic situation.

The company is adapting its latest design to accommodate local residents' requirements. Construction is expected to start in the final quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2010, said Kwant.

Central Retail Corp operates two Shopping Malls in Chiang Mai - Central Airport Plaza and Central Kad Suan Kaew Department Store. The company had planned to create new malls in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai this year, but this was deferred due to gloomy economic situation.

ECC Group is encouraged by the fact that developers such as Land and Houses have constructed many residential projects in Chiang Mai. Besides, there are many foreign companies established in the city. For example, one overseas movie production firm recently announced plans set up a studio.

So, the Dutch group believes the city in the near future will again attract many tourists and plenty of money.

In addition, Chiang Mai has as international airport, with many airlines flying directly to the province. Many Bangkokians also go to Chiang Mai in the holidays. More than 4 million tourists travel to Chiang Mai each year.

"It's a little bit confusing about Chiang Mai. It is the second-largest city in Thailand and many businesses are established there, but not for retail business. Most retailers are interested in expanding their malls in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket only. Now there are a lot of foreigners, both expatriates and tourists, in Chiang Mai.

"Therefore, Chiang Mai is big enough and ECC Group is confident that there is an opportunity for other retailers to enter this market," Kwant said.

He said the group had established an office in Chiang Mai in 2006, after which it began to conduct market research in the city. It found that retail business growth in Chiang Mai over the past couple of years had been about 5 per cent per annum. When the economy recovers, sales growth per year may reach 10 per cent, he added.

Kwant said it was, however, hard to predict growth in this business in the near future because many factors - not least the global economic crisis and the Bangkok airport closures at the end of last year - have affected retail business in Chiang Mai, with many tourists steering clear of Thailand.

ECC Group is designing the Promenada shopping mall to have a higher proportion of local entrepreneurs than existing malls, as this fits the needs of the local population. The proportion of brand-name products and local ones will be 60:40, with the company's priority target group being local people.

Kwant said the retail business in Thailand was more dependent on tourists than ECC's shopping malls in Central and Eastern Europe. This may be a weakness amid the global economic crisis and the uncertain political situation.

He said Thai retail sales over the past six months had dropped by 20-25 per cent, whereas in the Polish capital Warsaw, where ECC Group operates a Promenada shopping mall, its sales had declined by only 4-5 per cent.

"About 95 per cent of our clients in Poland are local residents. People in Poland may pay less for luxury goods amid the economic crisis, but they still have to pay for essential goods. So, our sales show only a slight drop," he said.

He added that focusing on tourists, however, could turn out to be strength for retail businesses in Thailand when the global economy recovers, because the country is recognised internationally as one of the best shopping destinations in the world.

The key to the ECC Group's retail success in Central and Eastern Europe, where it is the leader in some countries, is its cooperation with local partners, companies and individuals, plus dedication and listening to the local people's requirements.

These factors will also be crucial to a successful operation in Chiang Mai, said Kwant.

"We're the newcomer that brings new things to locals. We always cooperate with local parties such as manufacturers, partners and individuals and do everything to meet their requirements.

Moreover, dedication is another factor leading us to success.

"We cannot operate our shopping operation from Europe. I've already moved to live in Thailand. So, these factors will bring us success," he said.

Source: The Nation - 6th May 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Perfect Pad Thai Everytime !!

Pad Thai along with Tom Yam Goong & Iced Thai Tea are probably the most famous Thai culinary delicacies ever to have left Thailand.

The very distinctive taste of authentically prepared Pad Thai can now be found in Thai Restaurants in most cities worldwide, and is even available from your local supermarket as a ready-meal!.

There are many different regional variations of this dish, ranging from the substitution of tamarind & palm sugar for malt vinegar & granulated sugar, and the replacement of fish oil (the staple cooking ingredient in EVERY Thai dish) for thin or light soy sauce.

There is also the widescale desecration of this most noble
Thai Dish by many American restaurants who insist on adding TOMATO KETCHUP!!.

Please Click Here to read the full article.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How to Make
perfect Iced Thai Tea

There is nothing more cooling & delicious on a hot day in Chiang Mai
than a glass of refreshing “Cha Yen” or Iced Thai Tea as it is Internationally known. The word “Cha” means “Tea” & “Yen” means “cool” in Thai.

Here’s a really simple recipe a local street vendor from one of the
Daily Markets passed onto us recently, it takes around 20 minutes or so in total, and the end results are to die for !!.

It also saves the embarrassement of having to go out every few hours for my Thai Tea fix!, I can now make up a batch, and drink it at my leisure throughout the day.

Please Click Here to read full article.