Northeasterners Mark 50th Anniversary of the Communist Armed Struggle | The Isaan Record

From: Northeasterners Mark 50th Anniversary of the Communist Armed Struggle | The Isaan Record

quote12015 AUGUST 13 NAKHON PHANOM – Fifty years ago, Comrade Tang fought for communism in the first violent clash between communist fighters and Thai security forces. Last week, at 88 years old, he marked the anniversary with a call for democracy.

quote1In the early morning on August 7, villagers and local politicians flocked through the gate of Nabua’s village temple to commemorate the incident that came to be known as the “Day the First Gunshot Rang Out.” Against the military’s demands, the crowd of 250 not only celebrated the former communists, but also rallied for freedom from the current military rule in Thailand.

quote1On August 7, 1965 Nabua, an ethnic Phu Thai village, made headlines all across Indochina when Thailand’s first-ever physical confrontation between communist fighters and Thai security forces occurred. According to eyewitnesses, eight communist villagers were involved, one of whom was shot dead during the incident after the town was surrounded by state forces.

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A swing through Isaan – Bodhidharma’s Eyes

Bodhidharma's Eyes

Isaan, or northeastern Thailand, is easily my favorite part of the country. I could explain why by saying superficial things like “the people are friendly, the food is spicy and the scenery is spectacular”, but one can only truly know what I mean by smelling a rice field at dusk, joining a group of locals for whiskey and soda after dark, and tasting a bite of those spicy salads for oneself. The next best thing, I suppose, is seeing pictures that capture just a hint of the wacky charm Isaan is famous for. So, here you go:

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Khon Kaen welcomes the International Silk Festival

Khon Kaen welcomes the International Silk Festival

KHON KAEN – The International Silk Festival, “Pook Xiao” Tradition and Red Cross Fair 2013 is set to become the hub of silk cultural exchange and trading in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).

Highlights of the show will include the double-bill international seminar and business matching event entitled “Mekong Silk Road in the GMS”, sericulture and silk weaving exhibitions, silk fashion show and cultural performances from six GMS countries – Vietnam, Lao PDR., Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and China’s Guangxi and Yunnan provinces.

Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Mekong Institute, will address the opening of the “Mekong Silk Road in the GMS”, which will be held from 27 to 28 November, 2013, while His Excellency Shigekazu Sato, Japan’s Ambassador to Thailand, will deliver a keynote speech.

Sericulture and silk experts from the GMS countries will discuss on various topics including the Importance and Productivity of Silk to the Global Market, Silk Trends and Prospects in the ASEAN Market and Silk Trading in the GMS during the international seminar day to be held at Rachawadee Resort and Hotel in Khon Kaen City on 27 November. Delegates will inspect three sericulture and silk production centres, discuss business, and convene on the establishment of a Mekong Silk Road in the GMS network during the business matching day, which follows on 28 November.

The International Silk Festival, “Pook Xiao” Tradition and Red Cross Fair 2013 will take place in front of Khon Kaen City Hall from 29 November to 10 December, 2013. The 12-day show has been scheduled to be filled with educational and recreational activities as well as shopping opportunities.

via Khon Kaen welcomes the International Silk Festival.

Celebrating in a ‘Land Time Forgot’ – NYTimes.com

Luang Prabang is now the crown jewel in a $513 million annual tourism industry that has become the second-largest industry in Laos, behind mining and ahead of electric power. However, the town’s shaded streets, glittering temples and French-colonial ambience still offer a less-developed alternative to many of Southeast Asia’s glitzier destinations.

“It still is, really, a bit of a land that time forgot,” said David Johnson, managing director at Delivering Asia Communications, a Bangkok-based public relations company specializing in hospitality consulting. It will change eventually, but Luang Prabang and Laos develop at their own speed, he added.

Hundreds of foreign tourists were among the thousands watching the parade of “fire boats” that followed the races in Luang Prabang. The nighttime event is a highlight of the three-day race weekend: Handcrafted bamboo boats adorned with fruit, candles and paper serpents are carried to a Buddhist temple and then floated on the nearby Mekong as a way of honoring ancestors and empowering the Naga, a serpentlike deity in Buddhist and Hindu mythology.

The event began at dusk as more than a dozen fire boats were pulled on trailers through the town’s main thoroughfare. Thousands of candles flickered in a light breeze as musical troupes marched along, playing traditional instruments.

via Celebrating in a ‘Land Time Forgot’ – NYTimes.com.

Apple snails in high demand in Mekong Delta | Tuổi Trẻ news

Nguyen Ngoc Hong, from the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang, says she hunts for apple snails in nearby paddy fields and canals whenever she has the time.

Local traders are willing to pay VND14,000 for a kilogram of snails with the shell removed, Hong says.

Elsewhere in Bac Lieu, the pests have also become sought-after as traders even pay higher: VND19,000 per kilogram.

After sourcing a huge amount of the snails, traders will sell them to facilities in Long My District.

The apple snail, or golden snail, a serious threat to rice production and the native ecosystem, has suddenly become sought-after in the Mekong Delta, with traders offering high payments to stockpile large amounts of the pests from local farmers.

Vo Nhu Y, deputy chairman of the local government of Ninh Quoi A, said it has been reported that the snails will be sold to China.

“But the speculation remains unverified,” he added.

Y said people in his commune have collected as many as 1 ton of snails to sell to traders every day.

Meanwhile, Le Hong Viet, deputy chief of the economic bureau of Long My District, said traders ship the products to facilities in Ho Chi Minh City instead of China.

It is a common trick of foreign traders, especially Chinese, to create false demand for agricultural products by offering high buying prices and then to abruptly stop buying the product.

via Apple snails in high demand in Mekong Delta | Tuổi Trẻ news.

Letter from Laos: river reverie | World news | Guardian Weekly

The mighty Mekong is perhaps more important in Laos than any other country it passes through. The river connects small riverside villages and provides two-thirds of the rural population with food for fishing. It is a place where children play and families bathe, where men fish and women wash their clothes. A place where people sit and think, cows and buffaloes roam free, and monks shed their robes and behave like brothers. It is revered in the eyes of the animists who depend on it – for life, memories, meaning.

Of the two days I spent on the slow boat to Thailand, a few seconds shared with a Laotian woman were the most memorable. She was a mother with sad eyes, wrapped in a traditional Lao skirt dotted with golds and browns. After continual coinciding glances with the woman, I realise that she is just as enchanted with me as I with her. We are in the back of the boat, in the engine room – the hottest, loudest, smelliest place to be – sitting with a dozen other Laotians on the floor. She looks exhausted, but pensive. Remote, but compassionate.

via Letter from Laos: river reverie | World news | Guardian Weekly.

Burma’s Last Timber Elephants – 101 East – Al Jazeera English

Myanmar has around 5,000 elephants living in captivity – more than any other Asian country. More than half of them belong to a single government logging agency, the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE). Elephants are chosen over machines because they do the least damage to the forest.

These elephants have survived ancient wars, colonialism and World War II while hard woods extracted by elephants in Myanmar once fed the British naval fleet. Yet today, Myanmar\’s timber elephant is under threat.

Once the richest reservoir for biodiversity in Asia, Myanmar\’s forest cover is steadily depleting and the government blames it on illegal loggers.

Now, the forest policy is being overhauled.

The Ministry for Environmental Conservation and Forestry has pledged to reduce its logging by more than 80,000 tonnes this fiscal year. Myanmar will ban raw teak and timber exports by April 1, 2014, allowing only export of high-end finished timber products.

MTE says that the private elephant owners contracted by the government will be the first on the chopping block. Saw Moo, a second generation private elephant owner, sees a bleak future for his stable of 20 elephants. He fears the family business will end in his hands and he may have to sell his elephants, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

via Burma’s Last Timber Elephants – 101 East – Al Jazeera English.