Amazing Thailand Countdown 2018 in Sakon Nakhon

The Tourism Authority of Thailand staged the spectacular Amazing Thailand Countdown celebrations in five regions across the Kingdom, with Lampang, Sakon Nakhon, Rayong, Phuket and Kanchanaburi ringing in the New Year.

Here’re some memorable moments in Sakon Nakhon.

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Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden returns in its second year

Bangkok, 10 January, 2018 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is once again proudly extending support to the staging of the second edition of the ‘Ekiden’ relay race, to be held in the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya on 28 January, 2018.

This year’s event has been renamed as ‘Krungsri Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden 2018’, reflecting a new collaboration with the Bank of Ayudhya, while key organisers remain unchanged, namely: the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, TAT, and Japan’s Mainichi Newspapers and RKB Mainichi Broadcasting.

Mr. Santi Chudintra, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Asia and the South Pacific), said: “In the second year, the Krungsri Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden 2018 will build on the success of the first year and will help strengthen the bond between Thailand and Japan even further, while showcasing the beautiful scenery, cultural and historical heritage sites of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

Krungsri Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden 2018
From left: Mr. Noriaki Goto, President and CEO of Bank of Ayudhya; Mr. Pichien Limwangyu, Vice Governor of Ayutthaya province; Mr. Santi Chudintra, Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Asia and South Pacific); and Mr. Katsuyoshi Seimiya, Director of Global Business Division, Mainichi Newspaper, at today’s press conference to announce the Krungsri Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden 2018

Ekiden, a type of long-distance relay race, has long been popular in Japan with the first being sponsored in 1917. The race requires a team effort with each member running a set distance with a cloth sash, or tasuki, which is then handed to the next runner in the team.

The inaugural Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden was held on 12 March, last year, to celebrate 130 years of Thai-Japanese diplomatic relations, and saw 400 teams with a total of 1,600 runners taking part, comprising 60 per cent Thai and 40 per cent Japanese.

The Krungsri Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden 2018 is limited to 400 four-member teams, with each member of the team running about 3.4 kilometres each of the 13.6-kilometre distance. Runners must register in a team format only, and in each team must have at least one Thai runner or one Japanese runner.

Japan is one of Thailand’s largest source of tourist markets. In 2017, Thailand recorded 1.54 million visitors from Japan, up 7.21 per cent, generating upwards of 65 billion Baht in revenue. For 2018, TAT expects to welcome 1.56 million Japanese to Thailand.

Easy air access from Japan is deemed as one of the contributing factors. During this current timetable, ending 24 March, 2018, there are 194 flights per week between major cities in Thailand and Japan. In addition, there are new and increased flights. Thai AirAsia X recently increased its Osaka-Bangkok frequency from 7 to 14 flights per week, while planning to resume its Sapporo-Bangkok service as well as introducing a new Hakodate-Bangkok route. Thai Lion Air also plans to introduce new direct services from Fukuoka, Tokyo and Osaka to Bangkok.

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Discover the Kingdom’s fascinating attractions at TAT’s Thailand Tourism Festival 2018

Bangkok, 10 January, 2018 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) invites local and international tourists to discover the Kingdom’s amazing attractions at the Thailand Tourism Festival 2018 (TTF 2018), to be held in Bangkok’s Lumphini Park from 17 to 21 January.

Thailand Tourism Festival 2018
see name list below

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn (in photo centre), TAT Governor, said: “The incredible experiences and attractions on offer all across Thailand are being showcased at this year’s Thailand Tourism Festival, or TTF 2018,   plus a delicious array of food, fascinating culture, live music, and more.”

The 38th edition of the festival will be made up of ten zones, including:

Zone 1: Follow In the King’s Footsteps – the Art and Science of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Visitors will enjoy this captivating, first-of-its-kind zone, set up in front of the statue of King Rama VI (located at the main gate of Lumphini Park).

Zone 2: Domestic travel products – introducing all that’s on offer for domestic travellers.

Zone 3: Discover Thainess in five regions – the Northern village will feature King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s ‘Sufficiency Economy Philosophy’, information about local hill tribes, and Doi Tung coffee shops. The Northeastern village will highlight the region’s refreshed image. The Central region village will feature a fun temple fair, and a traditional Thai house, with workshops on Thai handicrafts. The Southern Thai village will showcase how – as well as beautiful beaches – the South offers friendly local communities, preserved old towns and a thriving food culture. The Eastern village presents a ‘Shades of Eastern’ theme, with a cruise ship highlighting the luxury and family experiences on offer.

Moreover, both locals and foreign visitors are able to witness a cultural procession from the five regions, starting at 17.00 Hrs. every day.

Zone 4: Unique culinary delights zone – offers food from Bangkok’s 50 districts and Thailand’s five regions, including cooking demonstrations, giving visitors a taste of the vibrancy of the Kingdom’s cuisine.

Zone 5: The ‘Main Stage’ zone – will host the opening ceremony and VIP reception area, plus a variety of Thai cultural and contemporary performances from leading Thai artists and celebrities throughout the five-day event.

Zone 6: The TAT Studio – will showcase the work of TAT, and its new promotional campaign ‘Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018’ as well as live streaming special activities at each zone via the LED screens installed throughout the event’s venue.

Zone 7: Outdoor Fest zone – showcasing outdoor adventure tourism, plus a range of food trucks selling tasty treats.

Zone 8: TAT LAB – featuring fascinating products and activities targeting seniors, Gen Y, families and women, under the concept of LAB – L: Local & Global Linkage; A: Add More Value; B: Brilliant Idea. There will be workshops as well as panel discussions on related topics.

Zone 9: CSR ‘Trash to Treasure’ – designed to raise awareness among visitors, including an array of activities; such as, lucky draws and souvenirs.

Zone 10: Pracharath zone – held in collaboration with partner organisations including the Department of Mineral Resources; Zoological Park Organization; ThaiBev; The SUPPORT Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand; Navy Tourism Centre; Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand; Lam Takhong Power station; Thailand Post; Nakonchai Air; AirAsia; Thailand Tourist Police; and Bangkok Mass Transit Authority.

The Thailand Tourism Festival 2018 will be held at Lumphini Park, from 17 to 21 January, from 12:00 to 22:00 Hrs. Visitors are encouraged to arrive via BTS Sala Daeng Station or the MRT underground Silom Station.

The event is expected to attract about 600,000 local and international visitors.

Photo caption:
1: Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor (centre)
2: Mr. Thanit Tanbuaklee, Director of Bangkok Tourism Division (5th from right)
3: Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications (4th from right)
4: Mr. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, Deputy Governor for Policy and Planning (3rd from right)
5: Mr. Klissada Ratanapruk, Executive Director of Southern Market Division (far right)
6: Mr. Noppadon Pakprot, Deputy Governor for Domestic Marketing (5th from left)
7: Mr. Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, Advisor 10 (4th from left)
8: Mrs. Panjit Santhatkollakarn, Executive Director of Central Region Market Division (3rd from left)
9: Mr. Wiboon Nimitrwanich, Executive Director of Eastern Market Division (2nd from left)
10: Miss Somradee  Chitchong, Executive Director of Northern Market Division (far left)

Farm Chokchai Tour de Farm 6

Farm Chokchai Tour de Farm 6

Farm Chokchai Outdoor Sport is organising ‘Farm Chokchai Tour de Farm 6’ cycling event on 21 January 2018 at Farm Chokchai Farm 3 in Nakorn Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district.

The bike race will be held in two categories: “The Going Greener” (Road Race 63 kilometres) and “The Fearless Gentlemen” (Road Race 113 kilometres). The bike race is limited to 2,200 riders only.

Farm Chokchai Tour de Farm is organised to help raise awareness about sports and eco-tourism in Pak Chong area, enhancing its positioning as a destination of choice for recreation and adventure tourism. The organiser will also donate 100,000 Baht to the Foundation for Khao Yai National Park Protection.

On event’s day, cyclists can also contribute to local communities at a mini-fair offering farm fresh produces, organic fruits and vegetables, Thai massage and herbal compress, as well as local eco-tourism tour options.  There will also be an exhibition featuring Tour de Farm 1 to 6.

Farm Chokchai Tour de Farm 6Farm Chokchai Tour de Farm 6

Registration is available via http://farmchokchaisport.com until 19 January 2018.

China’s Interest in Riverine Development Evident at Mekong River Summit

In March 2016, while chairing the first summit on the Beijing-initiated Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC), Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, in a speech, cited an anonymous Southeast Asian proverb: “When gentle breezes stick together, they can have the power of a typhoon.”

Li addressed leaders of the nations through which the Mekong River flows, setting forth the foreign policy initiatives of the LMC with its objectives to engage and promote cooperation and development among the riverine nations.

Lesser known than another Chinese international development effort, the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing introduced the LMC in 2015, identifying it as “a new type of sub-regional cooperation mechanism” en route to a joint objective of “building a community of shared future among Lancang-Mekong countries.”

With a second summit of the six Mekong nations � China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam � taking place January 10 and 11 in Phnom Penh to discuss a five-year development plan for the river, the LMC is rolling along. Central to discussions will be the issue of water management, including the development of dams and irrigation infrastructure, which represent control of the Mekong.

Bid to control

Originating in Tibet, the Mekong, known as the Lancang in Chinese, flows for 4,300 kilometers to drain into the South China Sea. Its fish provide livelihoods for an estimated 60 million people, and “as a source of food, touches the lives of more than 300 million from over 100 ethnic groups,” according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Any measures to regulate the river’s flow � such as dams � have the potential to affect the member nation’s economies.

“The LMC is clearly a bid by China to take control of Mekong matters, after having refused to join the Mekong River Commission,” said Milton Osborne, a Southeast Asia expert who wrote the 2000 book The Mekong: Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future.

“In doing so it seeks to legitimize its own actions in building dams within its own borders while its state-linked commercial companies are associated with dam building downstream from China,” Osborne told VOA Khmer in an email.

The LMC represents a sign of the limitations the Mekong River Commission faced in stopping dam projects that could potentially be harmful to the Mekong region, he said.

Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam make up the commission. When it was formed in 1995, China and Myanmar opted out, which meant they could skirt the rule requiring commission members to present dam proposals for discussion.

“I am not optimistic that [the LMC] will play a positive part in addressing the major issues that now confront the environmental challenges aligned to the Mekong: decline in fish stocks, the issues associated with climate change, the particular problems of the Mekong Delta,” Osborne said.

Elliot Brennan, an independent researcher on Southeast Asia affairs, told the South China Morning Post that “the Mekong issue had the potential to be the largest China-ASEAN conflict flashpoint after the South China Sea, and that Beijing regarded controlling the river as a strategic objective. If Beijing manages to achieve control of the Mekong’s development it would quickly become a crucial artery for China’s rise and exportation of influence into ASEAN.”

A Chinese embassy spokesman in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment Monday.

‘Remarkable progress’

China has said the LMC initiative is moving forward and making “remarkable progress” since it took place a few years ago, vowing to implement the initiative with “neighborhood diplomacy policy” through the ideas of “amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness.”

In the past few weeks, China and member countries Cambodia and Laos moved to forge deals on new funding projects. All six member nations � the Mekong nations � had created secretariats to take charge of LMC matters by the end of December 2016.

Policy research organizations, many of them aligned with the six riverine governments, joined to form the Global Center for Mekong Studies last year to advise LMC member countries on a range of topics from politics to business.

“The [LMC] has grown into a sub-regional cooperation framework with great potential and vitality,” Li said in an op-ed published this week in the Phnom Penh newspaper, Khmer Times.

“In the context of rising backlash against globalization and protectionist sentiments as well as lack of momentum in East Asian cooperation, the LMC as a basic component of regional cooperation is not only conducive to narrowing the development gap within ASEAN and advancing ASEAN integration, but also enriches South-South cooperation and efforts to foster a more open, inclusive, and balanced economic globalization that benefits all,” Li wrote.

The hosting Cambodian Foreign Ministry announced that the summit, with the theme of “Our River of Peace and Sustainable Development,” would discuss ways to fix the development gaps among the downstream nations in support of ASEAN integration and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and ways to bolster people exchanges.

‘Model for multilateral institutionalization’

Po Sovinda, international relations analyst with the East China Normal University in Shanghai, said China, as an upstream country of the Mekong River, likely would use the LMC as a model of Beijing-led multilateral institutionalizations by proving that it would “not seek hegemony.” This would also build trust for its larger Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) plan, he said.

Po Sovinda added that China could face a backlash, however, if it mismanages the river by pursuing unilateral decisions, which run contrary to its “‘peaceful development’ rhetoric.”

By excluding China and Vietnam, the other LMC member states are not the claimants in the South China Sea conflict that in the past decade has had impacts on China’s soft power engagement, analysts say.

Brian Eyler, director of the Southeast Asia program at the Stimson Center in Washington, said Beijing could offset its “lack of multilateral engagement” in the South China Sea through its initiation of the LMC, adding that the Mekong engagement also could “shift attention away” from the conflicted sea.

“With the exception of the LMC being a multilateral initiative, China’s approach is a continuation of its economic expansion and market dominance in mainland Southeast Asia,” Eyler said.

“The LMC will [also] serve as a jumping off point for excess capacity in China’s industries such as hydropower, coal, highways, rail, and port development and seek to add a layer of political legitimacy to the offloading of this excess capacity through the Belt and Road Initiative,” he added.

Economic engine

A similar multilateral mechanism, the MRC, which is backed by the West, has been criticized for being unable to stop a number of controversial hydropower dams along the Mekong River. Up to 31 hydropower dams are expected to be built on the Mekong mainstream by 2030, according to the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research.

That the upstream dams are in China has allowed “water diplomacy” to emerge. In 2016, when downstream countries faced their worst drought in years, environmentalists said the intensity of the drought was caused, in part, by the dams. Vietnam asked China to release water and when China agreed, called the move a “gesture of goodwill.”

China is playing a key role in many downstream LMC countries. The largest foreign financier and investor in Laos, China has voiced support for Myanmar in its internationally-condemned treatment of Rohingya.

In Cambodia, China is supporting Prime Minister Hun Sen’s crackdown on dissent and Cambodia is supporting China on many regional and international agendas.

Within the LMC structure, China is funding all proposed projects expected to be adopted this week, Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said, adding that each member state is given equal decision-making power through a consensus format.

“This [cooperation] works toward security, sustainable development, and well-being of our people as the most important trios,” Phay Siphan said.

“For Cambodia’s part, we seek investment on connectivity, irrigation infrastructure, and projects toward lower energy costs that could attract more investments and create more jobs.”

Source: Voice of America

China, Asia Leaders Discuss Mekong Dam Projects

Leaders of nations along Southeast Asia’s Mekong River gathered Wednesday in Cambodia’s capital amid a push by China to build more dams that are altering the water flow and raising environmental concerns.The meeting was chaired by Cambodian Prime Minis…