Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Great Black & White Hope
for Chiang Mai

Forget about Elephants, Buddhist temples and exotic Hill Tribes. The great hope for tourism in Chiang Mai, the "Rose of the North" and fountainhead of Thai culture, is a small, mouse-like baby panda of Chinese descent.

On May 27 Lin Hui, a female panda on loan to the Chiang Mai Zoo from China, gave birth to a tiny, rat-like pink female panda. It has since gained its distinctive black and white colours.

The birth was the result of artificial insemination, which the zoo had to resort to after Chuang Chuang, an 8-year-old male panda also on loan from China, refused to copulate with Lin Hui.

Chiang Mai Zoo vets at one point resorted to showing Chuang Chuang panda pornography, but to no avail.

Thailand is the only South-East Asia country to have been provided a panda pair from China. With Chiang Mai's tourism industry in a slump, the birth is being milked for all it is worth.

"The baby panda is Chiang Mai's big hope," Chiang Mai Zoo's assistant director Wanchai Tunwattana said.

The city is planning "welcome baby panda" parades on July 4-6, with marching bands from various Chiang Mai schools, and in mid-August will sponsor a special naming event for the little cub, to be held in Bangkok.

The cub, which is still kept in a nursing room with its mother, will be put on public display by October.

While Chiang Mai used to earn about 40 billion baht (1.16 billion dollars) from tourism five years ago, similar to amount then earned by Phuket and Pattaya beach resorts, last year the city's tourism revenues fell to less than 30 billion, compared with Phuket's 100 billion baht and Pattaya's 70 billion, Vorapong said.

In the first five months of 2009, arrivals have been down 20 per cent, he said. Hotels are operating at occupancy rates of less than 20 per cent.

Chiang Mai's great black-and-white hope now rests with a baby panda.

"This is our marketing tool to bring people back to Chiang Mai," Kanog said. "This might spark the mood for people to travel here."

Source: The Nation 28th June 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Rainy Season in Thailand

The most frequently asked questions I receive through the various forums I am involved with are "What is the best time of year to visit Thailand?" and "when is the rainy season in Thailand?". Both questions are inextricably linked to the South-West Monsoon that sweeps in from India & across Thailand between the months of May-October each year bringing with it potentially high winds & heavy rains!.

The "rainy season" in Thailand tends to start up in the northern provinces around Chiang Mai in early May and last through until the end of October.The rains descend on Bangkok & Pattaya by mid-May & tend to start by early June on both the Andaman Coast(Phuket,Krabi) & the Gulf Coast(Koh Samui,Koh Phangan & Koh Tao).

The heaviest downpours across all of Thailand tends to be between August-October, with the Gulf Coast still prone to heavy storms right through until early December.

What Can You Expect During Thailand's Rainy Season:
• No rain for a week at a time.
• Night rains and clear days.
• Cooler more pleasant early morning’s & evenings.
• Torrential rains that last 30 minutes to 2 hours, then clearing and brilliant sunshine.
• Overcast days with little to no rain.
• Two to three days of partial day rain in a week,especially later in the rainy season.

But don't despair, this doesn't mean that it is not advisable to visit Thailand during the rainy season, there are a range of both positives and negatives.

The positives that the rainy season can bring are:
• Accommodation is cheaper, as it's viewed as the "low season".
• Weather is cooler in the evenings & early mornings.
• There will be fewer tourists.
• Around the whole country all the vegetation & trees becomes lush,fresh & vibrant once more.
• White water rafting becomes even more "awesome" in the later part of the rainy season as the heavy rains runs throughout the country
• Waterfalls become fantastic visitor attractions as the heavy waters rush down them.

The negatives that the rainy season can bring are:
• You might get wet and need to change/dry out.
• Temporary interruption or delay of itinerary and travel plans.
• Trekking tours can become more difficult due to mud & slippery surfaces.
• Planning outdoor activities is more difficult and requires flexibility.
• Rough seas may make ferry travel to some islands unpleasant.
• Flooding, landslides & beaches littered with debris are all possibilities.
• Renting motorcycles during the rainy season should be well thought out and riding style modified to suit the weather & road conditions.

Taking all of the above information, you need to make an informed decision as to whether you feel the weather will adversely affect your plans to visit Thailand.

Personally speaking there is just so much to do here that providing you approach your holiday with flexibility & an open-mind you will STILL have the greatest travel memories of your time in Thailand!.

Chiang Mai Giant Panda Cub
- Naming Competition Update

Three million postcards have been submitted in voting on a name for the Chiang Mai Zoo panda cub - a response so enthusiastic the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology will consider publishing more postcards for an even wider distribution, ICT Minister Ranongruk Suwanchawee said yesterday.

With the voting deadline on August 5, and the lucky draw scheduled for August 10, it was expected many more people would buy cards to send in early August.

Down South, the post office in Narathiwat's Muang district had sold nearly 70 per cent of its 24,000-postcard quota while the rest would be sent to other district post offices.

One buyer, Wannaita Jaemu, said she wanted to be part of the name competition for the panda born in Thailand - and also because there were so many attractive awards.

The zoo's name contest for the panda cub will reward the most voted for name with Bt1 million cash, one car, and a Bangkok- Chengdu package tour for two persons.

Second prize would be given to two winners, each with a car and the Bangkok- Chengdu package tour for two, while there would be 12 third-place awards, each of the Bangkok-Chengdu package tour for two. Some money from postcard selling would go to funding the panda family's care by the Zoological Park Organisation.

Yesterday morning, Chiang Mai Zoo staff brought food to distract mother panda Lin Hui and grab the cub for a regular check-up. They took only 20 minutes before returning the cub to Lin Hui as the female panda began looking for her baby.

Veterinarian Kanikar Nimtrakul reported the cub was chubbier and currently weighed 1,270 grams, a daily increase of 60 gms. Though its body length remained at 30 centimetres, its feet had grown by 0.5 cm to the current 4.5 cm, she added.

The cub can now stay in an incubator without crying or showing it felt the cold, she said. Zoo staff would take the cub from Lin Hui again later in the day, to get the panda used to separations.

Prasertsak Boontrakulpoonthawee, chief of the panda research project, said that since the cub would soon be too large to be pulled through the cage's bars, the staff would try lifting it from Lin Hui's arms while she was eating food.

They would stay inside the cage to gain Lin Hui's trust until they could eventually separate the cub from her. This was to prepare for the July 4-6 display period when the public could see the panda cub.

If Lin Hui insisted on keeping hold of the cub, they would enlarge the cage's bars to take the cub out and put it in the incubator, leaving Lin Hui in the panda display section, he said.

Source: The Nation 24th June 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Movie Studios & Theme Park
to be Built in Chiang Mai

Integrated Development Aims to Become Hub of the Asian Film Industry, Complete with Unique Residential Housing, Tourist Facilities and Diverse Entertainment

Creative Kingdom, the world’s leading creator of themed design architecture and destinations, including Dubai’s Palm Island and World Island, today unveiled plans for Chiang Mai Wood (CNX-Wood), a 175-acre mixed-use movie studio and residential development in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Once completed at an estimated cost of 8 billion Thai baht($650 million), the sprawling complex will house the state-of-the-art CNX Movie World Studios, as well as an integrated network of self-sufficient residential neighborhoods, a wide variety of entertainment offerings, cultural venues, museums and world-class restaurants.

"CNX-Wood is sure to become one of the most advanced mixed-use destinations in the world, and we are extremely excited by its potential," said Eduardo Robles, chief executive officer, Creative Kingdom, Inc. “The new CNX Movie World Studios will serve as the hub for Asia’s booming film industry and become one of the premier destinations for the world’s movie makers. In addition, the integrated nature of the facilities will be unrivaled in providing its residents, from those looking for a vacation or second home to those seeking an unmatched luxury lifestyle, with the perfect mix of entertainment, culture and life balance.”

The CNX Movie World Studios will feature a series of state-of-the-art film production studios, animation facilities and special effects laboratories. The facilities will provide film makers with the most advanced tools and technologies for developing and producing top quality domestic and international movies.

The development includes multiple residential neighborhoods, including villa and luxury housing, that will be connected to the film facilities via an integrated network of bike and walking paths. Each neighborhood will be fully independent, with its own infrastructure, stores, libraries, schools, medical facilities, water/electrical services, shopping, parks, entertainment and cultural venues.

In addition, a wide variety of entertainment offerings will be spread out over nine specially-themed areas in the complex. Movie theaters, a water park, theme parks, beach club, a man-made lagoon and a Japanese-themed amusement center are just some of the diverse features residents and visitors alike will discover.

For businesses, the complex will offer brand new corporate office buildings for international headquarters or regional bureaus. It will also be fully equipped to host corporate gatherings, conferences, events, product launches and other important functions.

The CNX-Wood development will be completed over five stages, beginning with the film studios. For additional details, please visit Creative Kingdom website.

About Creative Kingdom:
Creative Kingdom, Inc. (CKI) is the world’s leading creator of themed design architecture and destinations. In addition to its architecture and master planning expertise, the multi-faceted company conducts cutting edge work with CGI 3-D architectural video animation, 2-D/3-D cartoon animation, and video, film and music production. When designing themed projects, the company seamlessly integrates its expertise in architecture, design, entertainment and leisure development to create unique, visually stunning destinations.

Creative Kingdom’s global headquarters are based in Los Angeles, with offices on Dubai, UAE; Beijing, China; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Pasig City, Philippines. More information on Creative Kingdom and its subsidiaries can be found at Creative Kingdom website.

Source: The Business Wire 22nd June 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wai Khru Day - Chiang Mai

Wai Khru Day - The youngest pay respects to their teachers at Wachirawit Primary School, Chiang Mai ,Thailand.

This is Grades 1-6 in the English language class. The native English-speaking foreign teachers are placed by EFL Chiangmai, and most have earned their TEFL training certification from SEE TELF (Siam Educational Experience).

Background Information:
The wai khru (pronounced way-kru)ceremony is a Thai ritual in which students pay respects to their teachers in order to express their gratitude and formalize the student–teacher relationship.

It is regularly held near the beginning of the school year in most schools in Thailand. Wai khru has long been an important rite in the traditional martial and performing arts, as well as in astrology and other traditional arts; students and performers of Muay Thai and Krabi Krabong, as well as Thai dance and classical music, will usually perform a wai khru ritual at their initiation as well as before performances to pay respect and homage to both their teachers and the deities who patronize their arts.

The wai khru ceremonies which take place in most educational institutions in Thailand today generally follow the same form. The ceremony usually begins with a Buddhist prayer ritual in institutions where Buddhism is observed as the official religion, followed by the student's recitation of the wai khru chant, which expresses respect for and gratitude to the teachers, and asks for the teachers' blessing of their studies.

Following this, a select number of students, usually the representatives of each class, will present the teachers with offerings of flowers, candles and incense sticks.

This is usually followed by a speech by the head-teacher offering the students guidance in their academic career. Many institutions also present student awards and honours during the ceremony.

The traditional offerings for wai khru represent a symbolism of student qualities, namely:

* Ixora flowers - which while closed form pointed buds, symbolizing sharp wit.

* Cynodon dactylon(Bermuda grass) - the rapid growth and resilience of which symbolize perseverance and the ability to learn.

* Popped rice - which symbolizes discipline.

* Eggplant flowers - which bow low when nearing fruiting, symbolizing respect and humility.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Giant Panda Cub
- Let the Serious Voting Begin!

A contest to select a name for a female baby panda born in Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo on May 27 is nearing the end with a 1 million baht ($29,300) prize to the winner.

From the thousands of entries received, the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand has narrowed the selection down to four names:

Ying Ying - Chinese meaning is "Cherry Flower".

Thai-Jeen - Lao meaning is "Chinese Candy".

Lin Ping - Chinese meaning is "Beautiful Jade", "Ping" is the name of the river that runs through Chiang Mai.

Khwan Thai - Thai meaning is "Axe Thai" which I can only assume is a reference to the "loose" shape of Thailand which looks like an axe!.

Each of the four contestants who submitted these names will receive 400,000 baht ($11,700) and an airfare ticket to China to tour panda sites.

People can vote for their favorite name by sending in a postcard that will be available for purchase starting June 19. The winner will be announced on August 12, which is Mother’s Day in Thailand.

The zoo is also currently constructing a 60 million baht ($1.76 million) snow house for the pandas that is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

The panda cub was bred by artificial insemination and is the first to be born in Thailand.

Source: The Epoch Times, New York 17th June 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Driving in Thailand
- "The Rules of Engagement"

Having lived in Thailand for nearly 5 years, and covered some 100,000+kms in that time I feel that i am reasonably qualified to make these personal observations.

You might feel that I am being a little disparaging towards my hosts, but believe you me, this is not JUST about the local drivers, foreign drivers seem to slip “seamlessly” into this mode of driving when in Thailand !!.

I have tried to portray each “event” as a small interesting “sound bite”, and welcome Visitor Feedback on this highly emotive subject.

Please click HERE to read full article

Friday, June 12, 2009

Chiang Mai's Giant Panda Cub
- First Public Dates Announced!

The Chiang Mai Zoo will be putting the giant panda cub on public show on July 4, 5 and 6, a veterinarian said Friday.

Kannikar Nimtrakul, the veterinarian in charge of pandas the zoo, said visitors will be allowed to see the panda baby inside a glass room in two shows a day from July 4 to 6.

She said those who would come for the show should refrain from touching their animals and pets for fear that would carry virus from their pets to the exhibition area, and later spread to the baby panda.

Source: The Nation 12th June 2009

2009 Cost of Living Survey
- Chiang Mai

The annual cost of living comparative survey has just been released by ECA (the worldwide leader in re-locating personel & staff around the globe).

The main variable in the 2009 charts versus the 2008 ones are the global effects of the current recession, which has further depressed major currencies such as the GBP£ & US$ against the Thai Baht, which has actually also increased slightly in strength over the last 12 months. The overall performance of the Thai Baht versus these two currencies is now in the region of +20%, affecting mainly property purchasing & the cost of living for ALL Western Expats!.

ECA’s cost of living data compares a basket of 125 consumer goods and services commonly purchased by international assignees in over 370 locations worldwide. The data is used by ECA clients to calculate cost of living allowances for assignees.

The survey covers:
Food: Groceries; dairy produce; meat and fish; fresh fruit and vegetables
Basic: Drink and tobacco; miscellaneous goods; services
General: Clothing; electrical goods; motoring; meals out

Not surprisingly the top 4 most expensive cities in Asia are all in Japan(Tokyo,Nagoya,Yokohama & Kobe), followed by the next 4 most expensive being in China(Beijing, Shanghai,Hong Kong & Shenzhen), completing the top 10 are Singapore & Taipei(Taiwan).

Bangkok is 28th most expensive & Chiang Mai is 33rd most expensive in Asia. In most expensive on a global scale out of 370 worldwide cities that make up the measure, Bangkok is 174th & Chiang Mai is 192nd.

So the major cities of Thailand are still comparatively speaking "good value" for Expat living, however the costs have crept up due to the diminishing value of both Sterling & the US Dollar rather than by the increase in prices caused by Thai inflation, this has had quite a profound effect on the purchasing of property in Thailand, which is currently completely in the doldrums.

From Small Acorns
- The Thai Red Bull Story

Did you know that Red Bull the world's leading energy drink, which sells more than ONE BILLION CANS a year in nearly 100 countries actually originates from Krating Daeng a Thai beverage energy drink?.

Dietrich Mateschitz an Austrian on a visit to Thailand in 1982 took home with him several bottles of Krating Daeng primarily because he claimed it took away his jet lag.

Krating Daeng, which is Thai for "Red Bull," was a drink popular among cab drivers and other blue collar workers. It had been produced since the early 1970s by the T.C. Pharmaceutical Co., founded in Thailand in 1962 by Chaleo Yoovidhya, a Blendax licensee. (T.C. Pharmaceutical eventually formed the subsidiary Red Bull Beverage Co. Ltd.)

Mateschitz founded Red Bull GmbH in Austria in 1984 as a 49 percent partner with Chaleo Yoovidhya and his son. The company began marketing its namesake drink in Austria in 1987; a million cans were sold in the year.

The original formula was altered for Western palates. Some ingredients were dropped and carbonation was added. Components of the legendary elixir included "B" vitamins, glucuronolactone, sodium, and caffeine. One ingredient, the amino acid taurine, was derived synthetically, not from bull testicles, as rumour had it!!.

Red Bull's selling proposition was that it increased stamina and mental concentration, making it a natural for one of the original target users, long-distance drivers. The taste of the thick yellow beverage, said to be akin to liquid gummi bears, lent added distinction to the brand.

Red Bull's distribution expanded into neighboring countries Hungary and Slovenia in 1992. Red Bull was introduced in Germany in March 1994. By June, it was claiming a quarter of the sports drink market there, reported the Associated Press, putting it ahead of Gatorade. It was priced about three times as much as a can of Coca-Cola. Red Bull was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1994 and marketed there as Red Bull Stimulation after 1996.

Red Bull entered the United States in 1997, focusing at first on four western states: California, Oregon, Texas, and Colorado. It was marketed to Americans as a non-corporate alternative to Coke and Pepsi, and both packaging and pricing helped set it apart. The drink was sold in unique, narrow 8.3-ounce cans for $2 a pop.

Red Bull associated itself with the nascent extreme sports movement. The company sponsored snowboarding and freeskiing contests and Flugtag, a homemade flying machine challenge (Mateschitz was an enthusiastic collector of vintage aircraft).

While Red Bull had appealed to athletes and, in the United States, tired white collar workers, the real story of Red Bull's growth lay in the promise of further endurance at clubbing, giving it a special appeal for young people exhausted from working hard all week. The Los Angeles Times reported that the beverage appeared to glow green under the fluorescent light of nightclubs. The drink became a very popular mixer, especially with vodka. Red Bull deepened its involvement with the club scene by sponsoring a month-long school for deejays in New York City called the Red Bull Music Academy.

Worldwide sales were logged at 300 million cans in 1998 by Beverage World. By the end of 1999, Red Bull was sold in more than 50 countries, and sales estimates varied between 600 million and one billion cans worldwide. Red Bull led the energy drink category in the United States and the United Kingdom, where it displaced the venerable Lucozade brand owned by pharmaceutical company SmithKline Beecham (later GlaxoSmithKline).

The company promoted the lift the beverage offered with the slogan "Red Bull gives you wings." Traditional advertising was limited, as the company focused heavily on getting product samples into the right hands. The company sometimes put up edgy, graffiti-style billboards. In the late 1990s, Red Bull produced animated TV ads for mature markets.

By this time, Red Bull GmbH was the most highly valued company in Austria, worth about $11 billion according to one estimate. This made Mateschitz, with his 49 percent holding, the country's richest individual.

Mammoth beverage marketers such as Coca-Cola Co. and Anheuser-Busch were pouring out new drinks designed to capture a share of the success of "cult" energy drinks, a $300 million market. PepsiCo acquired South Beach Beverages, maker of the SoBe brand, in 2000, and Quaker Oats, owner of Gatorade, the next year. Liquor distributors were also eyeing Red Bull's share of the mixer market, introducing pre-mixed premium drinks such as Smirnoff Ice. Former Red Bull employees launched a competitor, Roaring Lion, in 2001, its marketing and distribution tailored for the nightclub market.

Red Bull sued a number of bars for surreptitiously substituting knock-offs when customers ordered mixed drinks specifying Red Bull. Red Bull's Australian distributor rolled out its own competing beverage called LiveWire. A court later found Sydneywide Distributors copied Red Bull's packaging too.

Source: Red Bull GmbH

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chiang Mai Zoo
- Giant Panda Cub
- Latest News

Anyone desperate to get a glimpse of Chiang Mai Zoo's giant panda cub will have to wait in line -- for the rest of the year!.

"The 65,000 advanced tickets for this year to see the panda in its snow dome have already been snapped up," said Pradit Pankaew, an official at Chiang Mai Zoo. "The queues last until January next year!."

Visitors sometimes book beforehand to visit the koalas and the aquarium, but never on this scale, Pradit added. Panda fever has also reached Chiang Mai Airport, where posters of the cub are luring tourists to the zoo.

People across the country have been busy thinking up names for the new arrival. Tai Tai, Lin Lin, Ching Ching and Tai Na are popular suggestions, while others prefer Lanna-dialect names such as Uang Phueng, Uang Luang and Uang Doi.

Chinese veterinarians and panda expert Wei Ming managed to separate the cub from mother Lin Hui for a 15-minute health check-up yesterday. After Lin Hui got wise to their trick of offering a bamboo snack to get her to let go of her cub, the staff shifted to bread, which distracted her long enough for them to snatch the tiny panda.

Veterinarian Kannikar Nimtrakul said that the fast-growing cub's weight had increased by 105 grams in two days to 500 grams. It is now 22cm-long and getting black fur around its ears and front and back legs. Kannikar confirmed that Lin Hui is producing enough good-quality milk for her offspring.

Prasertsak Boontrakulpoonthawee, chief of the zoo's panda research project, said thousands of names had been submitted to the cub-naming contest ahead of the deadline for suggestions this Friday.

They would be narrowed down to four, he said, then the public can vote for their favourite name using specially made postcards, with some of the proceeds going to the Panda Fund. The winning name will be announced on August 12, said Prasertsak.

Source: The Nation 10th June 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chef Robert Danhi
- "Cuisine within Context"

"Cuisine within Context”"

Chef Robert Danhi: Has been working as a professional chef for over 20 years. Specializing in Asian cuisine ,he is a culinary consultant, & dynamic presenter...

"When I began writing Southeast Asian Flavors years ago I always had the vision of a multimedia element being a huge part of it. I began to photograph and record videos of my journeys around Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore."

"The people, places and foods of these cultures captured my heart over twenty years ago and the love affair continues to grow as I gain a deeper understanding of the culinary culture that makes each country, region, city, town and village form a unique Culinary Identity."

Please click here to read the full article: "Cuisine within Context" it's a great story of intrepid travel through Northern Thailand.

Care for Dogs - Chiang Mai

"Dogs, Dogs & More Dogs!"

Thailand sure has it’s fair share of dogs!. These Street Dogs or "Soi Dogs" as they are known, have an estimated population that could be as high as 6 million!.

Left to roam the neighbourhoods without any proper breeding control, many of these soi dogs are starving, sick, dying, abused, frightened, homeless, alone and unloved.

Something had to be done! In June 2006, "Care for Dogs"
was established by some kind and willing individuals with a vision to alleviate the suffering of at least some of these animals in Northern Thailand.

Please click here to read the full article on "Care for Dogs" - its a great read!.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Thai Visa Rule
- "Visa on Arrival"

For NEW "Visa on Arrival" rule, please see addendum lower down page.

"Visa on Arrival" - The new definition for the Visa on Arrival is that IF you arrive "overland at a Thai border, rather than by International flight,you will be granted a visa enabling you to stay for just 15 days. The reason for this change I think is to cut down on the "visa runs",that have enabled people to stay in Thailand almost indefinately by just leaving the country at a border, then re-entering immediately.

The criteria of this visa are:

* The purpose of visit is strictly tourism.

* Must be in possession of a confirmed international flight ticket to show they will be flying out of Thailand within 15 days of entry,exiting Thailand via train, bus etc to neighbouring countries IS NOT accepted as proof of leaving.

* Having access to living expenses of the equivalent of 20,000 baht per person or 40,000 baht per family.

There are also a group of 19 countries that the "Visa on Arrival" rules also apply for, this visa is required upon arrival at Bangkok Airport:

Bhutan,China,Cyprus,Czech Republic,Estonia,Hungary,India, Kazakhstan,Latvia,Liechtenstein,Lithuania,Maldives,Mauritius,Poland,Saudi Arabia,Slovakia,Slovenia,Taiwan & Ukraine.

For the above countries, a fee is payable for this visa - 1,900 baht – upon entry, subject to change without notice.

Addendum: as of 1st June 2009 the Thai Immigration Bureau has issued a new regulation to be enforced from today:

"Any foreigner who has re-entered the kingdom on four (4) consecutive times on 15 days tourist "Visa on Arrival" stamps, will not be allowed to leave the country and re-enter Thailand. The only option is to exit Thailand and re-enter via an international airport, which will allow a further "Visa Exemption" 30 day stay".

Please Click Here to see Full Article .

Giant Panda Baby
- Chiang Mai Zoo
- Latest Update

BANGKOK, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Jin Yilin, acting Consul-General at the Chinese Consulate in Thailand's northern province of Chiang Mai on Monday went to congratulate and thank the Chiang Mai Zoo concerning the recent birth of the female baby panda.

On Wednesday morning, May 27, Lin Hui, the female panda in the zoo in the city of Chiang Mai, delivered her first baby, which has become the first panda born in Thailand and the world for 2009.

Also, the Chinese Consulate in Chiang Mai will cooperate with the Chiang Mai Zoo to hold a birthday ceremony for the newly-born panda, Thai-language newspaper Matichon newspaper quoted as Jin Yilin saying.

The birthday ceremony for the newly-born panda will strengthen the Sino-Thai relations, according to Jin Yilin.

Tentatively, the birthday ceremony for the newly-born panda will be organized on July 11, Prasertsak Boontragoolpoontawee, head of the zoo's panda section.

The birthday ceremony will be organized in Thailand's northern traditional way, according to Prasertsak.

Meanwhile, the six-day-old baby panda is now increasingly getting black hair around its ears, front and back legs, while the black patches are forming around its eyes.

It weights 260 grams, which is considered the superb development, he said.

Currently, the zoo's visitors, who visit the zoo, will see the newly-born panda and its mother Lin Hui through closed circuit television.

Lin Hui and male panda Chuang Chuang, the father of the newly-born baby panda, have been on loan from China to the Chiang Mai Zoo since 2003, as part of a panda research program. The loan agreement will see the two pandas returned to China after 10 years.

On Feb. 18, 2009, Lin Hui was impregnated with artificial insemination after all efforts to arouse male Chuang Chuang's interest in mating had failed.

Source: Xinhua News Agency - 2nd June 2009