Author Archives: Stilee

Visit to the Viharnra Sien

The Viharnra Sien, built by the Chinese-Thai community, is located 15km south of Pattaya. This three – storey Chinese style building, next to a lake, is a fascinating repository of arts, artifacts and statues. It is also a temple for worshipping Chinese Gods. It was opened in 1993 by H.M. the King, bestowing the name of Anek Kusala Sala (‘Multipurpose Pavilion’).

Originally I was not keen to visit the interior as the sunshine was too strong and I was tired. I was even reluctant to walk upstairs while inside as the ground floor was stuffy and I was really tired and thus lazy. My friends encouraged me to walk up and assured me that I would not regret it.

Once I reached the large open area on the 2nd floor, I thanked God that the sun was already hidden behind the clouds. The open air and assortment of statues made me feel lively again. There are statues of Chinese gods, well-known Chinese historical figures and shaolin monks in 18 different martial arts positions. According to the caretaker, each of the shaolin monk statues is sculptured according to a real person and some of the monks are still alive today. All of the statues are lifelike.

I was glad to see all these statues of great Chinese historical figures which I studied during high school, especially the great emperors of the Tang and Song dynasty because I am related to them. :)

Chinese surnames come from dynasty. My surname “Li” (transliteration)which is the most common surnams in the world, was the royal surname of the Tang Dynasty. About 15 different emperors had the Li surname. My middle name “song” (transliteration) is also a common surname (e.g. the Soong sister) derives from Song Dynasty. Under the reign of both the emperors, China enjoyed a period of economic growth coupled with great artistic, cultural and intellectual achievement.

I am glad that my ancestors are great emperors and that both of them are quite handsome and manly! : )

The temple grounds of the royal temple Wat Yanasangwararam covers a total area of 146 acres. It comprises a mondop (four gable pavilion), a large stupa, the Phra Yanaretwihan, international pavilion etc. Due to time constraint we could only drive one round after visiting Viharnra Sien and then had to say bye bye!

Statues of the great emperors of Tang & Song Dynasty

The royal temple ground

Visit To Sriracha Tiger Zoo

On the way to Pattaya for a meeting, I visited Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi. In Chinese it is called “Long Hu Yuan”, literally means ” Dragon and Tiger Zoo”. Why is crocodile classified as dragon? Well, dinosaurs belong to the “dragon” species and crocodile belongs to dinosaur family, that’s how the Chinese name of the zoo originated. The zoo is located on a 100-acre piece of land, consisting of more than 200 Bengal tigers, 100,000 crocodiles and various kinds of animals.

As my friend knows the owner of the zoo, once we arrived, we were welcomed and escorted by the manager to the restaurant for lunch. It was raining and we were led to a room with a glass window wall, so that we could see the tigers down below. We were served with crocodile delicacies including crocodile reproductive organ’s soup, dragon (crocodile) palm stick, fried crocodile meat with bun, fried crocodile tongue etc. I am not that adventurous with non-traditional livestock meat, so I was a little uneasy to try…though I did finally. Crocodile meat is a white meat, akin to fish in both appearance and texture. It has a delicate flavor, tastes more like chicken.

Dragon palm stick/Fried coconut meat with bun

Fried crocodile tongue, one whole crocodile for one small plate/Exciting crocodile show

According to the manager, the whole crocodile has value, from head to tail and from the outer skin to the internal organs. The crocodile meat is low in fat and high in protein. It is also a traditional remedy for asthma and can increase kidney and liver efficiency. During the bird flu tragedy a few years ago, 147 tigers were killed as they were fed with chickens. However, not a single crocodile was affected, meaning it has a very very strong immune system. Believe it or not, the manager looked at least 15 years younger than his real age and he attributed his youth looking to the eating of crocodile meat.

We had a quick tour of the zoo after lunch. It was a fruitful learning experience for me. During the visit, I didn’t notice a zoo worker standing besides me holding a baby crocodile in his arms. While I turned back and saw him, I was scared and screamed loud. I am very scared of crocodiles and feel disgusted if I watch them for too long…however, I did enjoy the crocodile show!

Sow feeding tiger cubs/Beautiful big cats

Thai Delegation Visiting Ningxia Halal Food Festival

Thai Delegation Visiting Ningxia Halal Food Festival

Some of the participants visiting China Muslim Cultural Muzeum

Held by Ningxia Investment Bureau, the 2nd Ningxia International Halal Food/Muslim Commodities Festival and the Investment & Trade Fair was held from 16th to 19th August, 2007 in Yinchuan city, China. There were more than 140 delegates from Thailand participating in the event, out of which over 40 were from the five Southern Provinces namely, Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla and Satun. The delegation was led by the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC) and those participating included governors, entrepreneurs, media and officials from the relevant agencies.

Ningxia is part of the Autonomous Region in China and is the home to five million Muslims. At the same time, more than 80 percent of the population in the three southern most border districts are Muslims. Therefore, according to Director-General of SBPAC Mr. Pranai Suwannarat, the main objective of the delegation was to explore the halal food market in China and to create more distribution channels for Thai halal food.

The opening ceremony/Serving free Thai delicacies and desserts

The dialogue session, mostly Thai delegates

The four days program included tours, opening ceremony, exhibition, dialogue, factory visiting, cultural performances and a grand banquet. We were really treated very well in terms of food, all of the meals were sumptuous and delicious. Compared to the Muslim food in Malaysia and Southern Thailand which were mostly yellow or orange in colours ( curry and spicy) and heavy taste, the Muslim food served in China had much more variety and had a lighter taste. I really enjoyed the Chinese Muslim food very much, especially the different types of lamb dishes. Yummy!!

The exhibition started on 16th after the opening ceremony. Thai halal food and other products had drawn a good attraction at the exhibition. Thai delicacies and desserts were served free during the exhibition and the response was very encouraging.

There was also a dialogue of economy and trade cooperation between Thailand and Ningxia. However, it was more of a speech session rather than interaction. SPBAC Director-General is a humorous guy and good at public speaking. However, since he did not speak according to the script, the Chinese translator had a hard time translating and made a lot of mistakes. The funniest thing was that Southern Thailand was said to be only one hour from Singapore!

I have joined a few Thai delegations visiting China; I find that one of the problems is the communication barrier. Not many Chinese in China speak English and even if they do, not many Thai delegates understand. Having said this, if the relevant authorities took seriously about helping the southerners whose living have been negatively affected by the violence for years and really took the effort to study and practically work towards the objectives, nothing can be a barrier! Yeah!

Buffet dinner/Cultural performance

Hui (Muslim) girl singing/My new Korean friends at the banquet

NATIONAL MUNICIPAL LEAGUE OF THAILAND 51ST ANNUAL CONFERENCE

The Conference

National Municipal League of Thailand 51st Annual Conference was held for three days commencing 20th June in Ambassador City Hotel Jomtien, Pattaya. The meeting brought together more than 2,000 mayors and other municipal officials from over 1,000 municipalities of different levels in Thailand, including the cities (thesaban nakhon), towns (thesaban mueang) and townships (thesaban tambon).

Various issues relating to local government policies and practices and updates were the main topics of the seminar, and the main objective was to create more efficient functioning at the local level of government.

The first day was for participant registration. Upon registration, participants were entitled to a bag with seminar materials, souvenirs and seminar allowance, regardless whether they truly showed up for the meeting!

The conference started on 21st June. There were many participants inside the seminar hall and they were also many hanging around, chatting or visiting the booths outside the hall, or even went out for fun. It seemed to be a rest and relax conference. Many exhibition booths were set up outside the halls. As this is the annual big event gathering all mayors and municipal clerks, the exhibitors did their best to promote their products and making offers to the mayors or other municipal officials. Somebody told me that there must be three important factors for one to do business with the municipalities: firstly, connection; secondly, connection and thirdly, connection too! :)

Conference In Progress/Exhibitor and Conference Ushers

Mayors & Product Promoters/Visiting The Booth

There was also a special session to discuss the issues in Southern Provinces in the evening. The mayors expressed their concern over various problems, for example the security, the development and the budget etc. It was more on a listening and collecting information session.

Like many other mayors, I intended to leave earlier for Bangkok. However, knowing that I like to see shows, my friends persuaded me to stay for the dinner performance. A lot of seminar participants had left but the grand ballroom with 300 tables was still full.

The opening performance was the colorful and sexy “Ah Gua” show, which Pattaya is popular for and followed by the human puppet show. I only realized that the puppets were real people when I went near the stage to take pictures. The show was marvelous and worth my stay. I ended another of my work and play trip with tiredness and happiness.

Dinner/The Ah Gua Show

The Puppet Show

VISIT THE ANTI-JUNTA RALLY


I just came back from Bangkok today and I am a little tired. However, after watching the special interview of the ousted Prime Minister Mr. Thaksin in Phoenix TV just now, I decided to write something…

Last year I visited the anti-Thaksin rally site, accompanied by a senior police officer. The scene of the rally still leaps up vividly before my eyes. When I passed through the crowd and stood in the midst of the rally, my tide of thought was rising up and down. There were people chanting, listening to speeches, shouting…booths were set up to sell t-shirts, paintings and other anti-Thaksin related theme products. There were also distribution of banners and provision of free drinks and food for the protestors. To my surprise, the rally seemed commercialized and was more like a carnival. It was indeed a shocking and unforgettable experience.

Today, I am in another rally, the anti-junta rally in Sanam Luang. The crowd apparently significantly less than the rally last year. There were no booths, no free drinks and food, only high-spirit protestors listening to speeches and responding with applause and shouts once in a while. Many of the protestors wore headbands that read “CNS get out”. There were police and security officers standing by to ensure the situation kept under controlled.

One of my friends Rat, who is an architect from Chiang Mai, told us a lot of interesting stories. According to him, after the clash in May 1992, death squads were sent out to liquidate or kill protesters. Police just triggered their guns towards the protestors and his brother was among those who were shot dead. He had personally driven the car towards the police and the police fired at him with many shots but luckily he managed to have a narrow escape.

On the way returning to the hotel by cab, my friends were eager to talk about the political situation in Thailand. It was said that there were many anti-junta people including students and businessmen being arrested in the North, that the small business owners suffered because of no orders, that there were also many soldiers stationed in different areas to be on alert of any sign of disturbance, that there was no media freedom at all currently, there all these were just out of personal jealousy and retaliation, that there are more corruptions going on, the only difference is that it will be corruption with no development. The taxi driver also joined in the conversation, saying that the mafia and drug sellers were currently eager to move because their number one enemy had gone…

I only listened quietly to the elders’ conversation. Like many others, I’d been in this country for some years. There are beauties and faults of this country. It is not better nor worse than my own country, it is just different and I am attached to it, as I see that I will have my life going on here. True or false, the country is being hurt now and I only wish that the country recovers as soon as possible.

During the interview, the words that impressed me the most is that, Mr. Thaksin had said something which made me feel sad. He said he missed his home and his country. I can feel this …only think about it when one day we travel overseas and suddenly we cannot go back to our home…This I totally sympathize with him.