February Expats Meeting

Yesterday morning was the February meeting of the Chiang Mai Expats Club. Guest speaker was John Spies.

John was a drop out from Sydney University when he was 17 years old. He decided on a lohg haired hippie life style and wanted to see the world. His plan was to travel overland from Asia to Europe and then where ever.

He originally spent 6 months in Indonesia which he loved and then made his way to Thailand. He recalls sleeping on the beach in areas such as Phuket and Koh Samui and laments how they are unrecognisable today from the pristine areas they once were.

Eventually he made his way to Chiang Mai. Later he lived in hill tribe villages in the mountains near Mae Hon Song and Pai, close to the Burmese border. In those days the Thai government did not show much interest in remote areas. Most hill tribes grew opium poppies and there was a thriving opium trade in Chiang Mai. He became interested in caving and founded Cave Lodge near Lod Cave,  He married and had a family there. These days the lodge is visited by scientific groups, TV documentry makers, school groups, tourists etc. John recalled dramas and accidents and even a murder that have occured over the years.

John’s address covered his early years (1977-1984) living in Chiang Mai, running hill tribe treks and setting up Cave Lodge.He promoted his book Living Wild in which he documents the stories over the years.

This guy has crammed more into his life than most people even dream about.

Lod Cave

Bamboo Rafting


An Honor Recital

Last night I attended an Honor Recital at the CRK Recital Hall, Payap University Kaew Nawarat Campus. This is the opportunity to listen to some of best music students of the College of Music. An honors student is recognized for achieving high marks in their course work.

Ning Jing & Purithat Aroonkan

The concert opened with Chinese folk music, Ning Jing, playing the gu zheng and Purithat Aroonkan playing the so chin. They played Kong que dong nan fei (The Peacock Pair Flies to the Southwest) and Sai ma (Horses Racing).

Next Witsaruth Tawinno, cellist, accompanied by Remi Namtep on the piano, played Elegie by Gabriel Faure.

Then Esther Cha played on the piano, Finale from Sonata No 3, opus 58, by Fredrick Chopin.


Esther Cha

Witsaruth Tawinno accompanied by Remi Namtep


 Pitchaya Yarana, soprano, and Arkorn Thauaowong, tenor, accompanied by Remi Namtep, piano, sang All I Ask of You from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, followed by Phachara Tanwattana, Alto Saxophone, and Esther Cha, piano, playing Movement I from Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, by Phil Woods.

Phachara Tanwattana and Esther Cha


Pitchaya Yarana & Arkorn Thauaowong









After a brief intermission, the concert continued with Pornnapha Chaburud, violinist, accompanied by Atsuko Seta, pianist, playing Allegro molto e con brio from Violin Concerto in C Major, opus 48, by Dmitri Kabalevski.

Next Kiyoshi Seta, vocalist, accompanied on the piano by , sang Largo al factotum from The Barber of Seville by Gioacchino Rossini, followed by Sahachart Kanchanaakamol, flautist, accompanied on the piano by Esther Cha, played Allegro Maestoso from Cconcerto for Flute in G by W.A. Mozart.

Kiyoshi Seta & Atsuko Seta

Pornnapha Chaburud


 Theerit Kanyarong ,cello, accompanied by Atsuko Seta, piano, played a very sensitive and moving  version of Tchaikovsky’s Nocturne Opus 19, No 4.

The show finale was a group of five girls singing and dancing a humorous and well choreographed routine of  A Tisket a Tasket, arranged by David J. Elliot.

A wonderful concert played by very talented students, supported by their teachers.



Theerit Kanyarong accompanied by Atsuko Seta,

Sahachart Kanchanaakamol accompanied on the piano by Esther Cha


ATisket a Tasket

Thank yous and Flowers


Double Recital

Last night I attended a double recital on the piano by Warin Hattori & Cheewaporn Apirakpanakhet at the CRK Recital Hall of the Music Department of Payap University, Keaw Narawat Campus.

Cheewaporn was born in 1993 and educated at Nakon Pathom. Warin was born in 1992 and educated at Chiang Rai. Both are 2nd year students at Payap, Majoring in Piano Performance under the guidance of the popular Ajarn Atsuko Seta.

The performance area was decorated with beautiful floral arrangements and the recital got away with the lively and pompous Military March Op. 51 in D major “allegro vivace” by Schubert, the first part of his popular Three Millitary Marches. It was composed for four hands and was played as a duet by the girls.

Cheewaporn then played two solo pieces. Firstly Mozart’s 12 Variations on “Ah vous dirai-je, Maman” K.265 followed by William Gillock’s Sonatina 1st Movement.

Warin played two solo pieces. Firstly Gustav Lange’s Blumenlied Op. 39 followed by Debussy’s Prelude on Pour le piano.

The final piece on two pianos was Mozart’s Sonata K.V. 488 in D major “Allego con sirito”

A very enjoyable concert with lighter classical pieces, played by two girls with an outgoing personality.

I have embedded two videos below. The first is an unusual version of Schubert’s Millitary March by Dana Peoples and George Wiese. The second is a version of Mozart’s 12 Variations on “Ah vous dirai-je, Maman” K.265 (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) by 7 year old Sophia.

Cheewaporn Solo


Warin & Cheewaporn Duet

Warin Solo

Warin & Cheewaporn on Two Pianos

Cheewaporn Exchange Gifts with their Teacher Atsuko (on left)

Everyone got a Snack Pack after the Performance





My Canadian friend, Don, and I are visiting Macau.

We depart on Monday afternoon direct to Macau from Chiang Mai by Air Asia. The flight time is 2hrs 40mins. We return Thursday night.

No, we are not going for historical or cultural reasons. We are going to check out the casinos and expect to come back with bulging wallets!


I’ve printed out this Macau Activity Guide for non-gamblers just in case.

Macau is an ex-Portuguese colony off the Southern coast of China in Far East Asia. Macau was once famous for being an area thick with counterfeiters, spies and drug runners. Ironically today Macau has legalized casinos and gambling — and in fact Macau is Las Vegas, Nevada’s biggest casino destination rival with experts saying Macau “Cotai Strip” could overshadow the Las Vegas Strip.

Macau casinos seems to attract the super-high rollers. While Las Vegas remains more family oriented. We could probably be regarded as low rollers and will be looking for low minimum bet blackjack tables!

We are booked at the Sintra Hotel for our 3 night stay.

Nuttavut Janpong

Last night I attended a Viola Recital by Nuttavut Janpong , at the CRK Recital Hall of the Payap University, Kaew Narawat Campus. Here is his Facebook Page.

Nuttavut is another local lad. He was born in 1989 in Chiang Mai. At Payap, Nattavat he is currently a senior student of Ajarn Apirat Praphanwong, majoring in viola performance. He participates in many ensembles and orchestras in Chiang Mai. The programme consisted of three pieces,

W.A. Mozart      Sinfonia Concertante in E flat Major K.364

Max Bruch         Romance for viola, Op. 85

L. Beethoven      String Trio in G Major, No. 1, Op.9

For the Mozart he was accompanied by Viwantanee Punprapai, violin and Remi Namtep, piano.

In the Bruch he was accompanied by Remi Namtep

While for the Beethoven he was accompanied by Pomnapha Chadburud, violin, and Witsaruth Tawinno, cello.

A very enjoyable concert with a good programme and talented players.

In the embedded video below a trio plays the presto movement of Beethoven’s String Trio in G Major, No. 1, Op.9, in Budapest

Concert Announcer

With Viwantanee and Remi










With Pomnapha & Witsaruth



Chinese New Year

Thais celebrate three New Years.

This weekend they will celebrate the Chinese New Year. Next year will be the year of the Snake. Snake Years are sixth in the cycle, following the Dragon Years, and recur every twelfth year. If you were born in a snake year here is your Horoscope. Look up your birth year here.

Inside a Chinese Temple

The streets and stores in Chiang Mai are decorated for the Chinese New Year.I went to the bank this morning and the premises were decorated with beautiful Chinese lanterns. As I write this blog I can hear fire crackers exploding  in the area where I live. Tomorrow the opening parade  will start  about 09.00 Hrs. from Thapae Road.

At the Warorot Market area there will be lot of Chinese activities and performances such as, a Chinese food fair, fire dragon parade, Chinese music show, Chinese Dance, lion show, etc. I have been there in previous years but I think I will avoid the crowds this year.

The second New Year celebration is Songkran which is the official Thai New Year. Festivities last several days from the 13th to the 15 th of April. I will write about this later.

And of course the third New Year is 31Dec-01Jan.Thais love to celebrate. Both days are Public Holidaysin Thailand.


Thunsinee Chaiwong

Last night I attended a Voice Recital by Thunsinee Chaiwong (Ping), a soprano, at the CRK Recital Hall of the Payap University, Kaew Narawat Campus.

Here is her facebook page.

Ping is a local girl. She turns 20 years old next month. At age 17 she took voice lessons at Music Ways music school, here in Chiang Mai. In 2011 she entered the College of Music at Payap University. Since 2012 she has been a voice performance major studying western voice with Deborah Childs,.

An excellent programme consisted of,

Marco Da Gagliano                               Dormi, Amor, with Judith Utley, Harp

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi               Setu m’ami, so spiri, with Esther Cha, piano

Legrenzio Vincenzo Ciampi                Tre gioroni son che Nina, with Esther Cha, piano

Francesco Durante                              Vergen Tutto Amor, with Payap String Quartet

W.A. Mozart                                           La ci darem la mano, with Kiyoshi  Seta, baritone, and Payap String Quartet

W.A. Mozart                                           Vedrai, Carino, with Payap String Quartet

Mark Hayes                                           Take My Life, And Let It Be Consecrated, with Esther Cha, piano

Michael Joncas                                      On Eagle’s Wings, with Esther Cha, piano

Andrew Lloyd Webber                          All I Ask Of You, with Arkorn Thausonwong, tenor, and Esther Cha, piano

Andrew Lloyd Webber                         Love Never Dies, with Esther Cha, piano

Thunsinee’s voice is not strong. In fact at times she had difficulty projecting it over the accompaniment. One wonders if she might be more suited to singing popular songs with amplification. Her voice however did have a “sweetness” and perhaps in time her voice may mature more. She also did not show the emotion some of the songs required. For example songs such as Take My Life, And Let It Be Consecrated require a deep conviction which was missing from her performance.

I have embedded two videos.The first is an excellent version of Love Never Dies from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to Phantom of The Operra, sung by Anna O Byrne. The second is Take My Life, And Let It Be Consecrated.


Thunsinee & Judith

Thunsinee & Esther


Thunsinee & Kiyoshi

Thunsinee & Arkorn

Thunsinee & Arkorn

Thunsinee & her Teacher Deborah

Napakan Nateenant

Last night I attended a Senior Piano Recital by Napakan Nateenant at the CRK Recital Hall, Payap University (KaewNawarat Campus)

Napakan is a local girl aged 22. She was educated at various schools in Chiang Mai. She began to study piano at 6 years old and has been associated with music all her student life. Since 2009, she has been a piano performance major at the Music College of Payap University.

The programme consisted of,


Fantasy                                                 W.A. Mozart

Salute d’amour                                     Edward Elgar

Romance in F minor                            Tchaikovsky

The Cascades & Maple Leaf Rag       Scott Joplin

Scaramouche                                     Derius Milhaud

The final item was a duet on two pianos with her teacher Atsuko Seta.

It was a capaity audiene consisting mainly of fellow students. In fact many were standing.

She looked a million dollars with her bright red concert dress and sparkling high heel shoes. The support of student friends was an obvious indication of her popularity.

After an exhillarating performance she was presented with her well deserved Achievement Certificate

Concert Announcer

Napakan Nateenant



Duet with Atsuko Seta





 Here is Scott Joplin playing his own composition, Maple Leaf Rag

La Terrasse

Last night the Dining Out Group ate at La Terrasse, a small french restaurant, located in a small soi, off the infamous Loy Kroh Road in the “entertainment” area.

Authentic French cuisine right in the heart of Chiang Mai cooked by French Chef Jean-Jacques Thine.The menu was complimented by Spanish tapas and Italian pastas,

There were 17 of us, a large group for a small restaurant. Apart from a few small problems the kitchen and wait staff did a great job. The french chef made an appearance from time to time and the Burmese waiter with a great sense of humour was excellent.

I ordered a set menu which comprised vegetable soup, chipolatas with mashed potato, and fresh fruit salad. Dishes ordered by others looked very good.

A very pleasant evening of good food and good company.

Vegetable Soup

Chipolatas & Mashed Potato







Al & Don Seem to be Enjoying Themselves

Our Burmese Waiter (behind Al)

Part of Our Group