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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Montien wins bartender contest for 4th year running

First ever Elephant Polo Tournament raises 393,129 baht for Elephant Conservation

Chonburi Water Buffalo Races Celebrate 130 Years

Montien wins bartender contest for 4th year running

Chakrapong Akkaranant

Narong Peelong from the Montien Hotel, with his mixed drink called “Red Passion”, won first prize in the “Pattaya Harbor Bartender Contest 2001”. It was the 4th straight year the “Bartender Champion” came from the Montien Hotel.

Pachapong Aphichatpong, deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand from the plans and development section, presents the 1st Prize Trophy in the “Bartender Contest” to Mr. Narong Peelong from the Montien Hotel.

For his efforts, Narong won the first place trophy, 9,000 baht in cash, a DTAC mobile phone, a “kamnan” coupon worth 1,000 baht at the Sherwood Karaoke, and products from the Krathing Daeng beverage company.

This year’s was the 17th annual bartender contest, and was organised by the Thai Hotel Association Eastern Chapter, the TAT and Pattaya businesses. The night of entertainment was held at the Dusit Resort on September 26, and this year was billed as the “Pattaya Harbor Bartender Contest 2001”. 110 participants representing 19 hotels from the eastern region took part.

Chatchawal Supachayanont, president of the Thai Hotel Association Eastern Chapter presents the 1st Prize Trophy in the “Miss Bartender 2001” category to Miss Sirilak Kongraworanont from the Montien Hotel. Miss Sirilak also won the “Miss Popularity” award.

The “Miss Bartender” title went to Miss Sirilak Kongraworanont, also from the Montien in Pattaya. Along with the trophy in the name of H.E. Sonthaya Khunpluem, the Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, she received 4,000 baht, a DTAC mobile phone, “kamnan” coupon good for 1,000 baht at the Sherwood Karaoke, and beverages from Krathing Daeng. Miss Sirilak also won the “Miss Popularity” award worth another 3,000 baht.

Shake it up baby

Chatrathai Pornmayano from the Thai Garden Resort won second prize of 6,000 baht in the “Mr. Bartender” contest for his concoction called “Ant of the Future”, followed by Chumpol Mabandit from the Mountain Beach Hotel winning 4,000 baht for his drink called the “Kinnaree”.

Miss Sivaporn Pornrongsanthia from the Pattaya Royal Garden Hotel was the first runner-up in the “Miss Bartender” contest, winning 3,500 baht, and Miss Treerant Chongpreuksa from the Pattaya Town in Town Hotel took the next runner-up position winning 3,000 baht.

The cake decorating prize went to Mr. Saroj Pandaeng and Mrs. Srirat On-Nguen from the Pattaya Montien Hotel. The fruit and vegetable carving category was also taken by a Montien Hotel employee, the skilled work of Mr. Anant Rodphai winning the title.

Having a difficult time keeping his eyes on the bottle

In the table setting category, Mrs. Saonaree Pornmuang from the Pattaya Dusit Resort took the honor and a trophy, keeping the Montien from making a clean sweep of all the tops prizes. The cash prize for these categories was 3,000 baht each.

Santsak Ngampiches, advisor to the Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, presided over the opening ceremony.

The annual contest provides a grand opportunity for hotel employees to sharpen their professional skills in a competitive and entertaining event. The combined cooperation also seals relationships among the hotel business community and helps strengthen individual pride among employees.

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First ever Elephant Polo Tournament raises 393,129 baht for Elephant Conservation

Anantara Resort & Spa together with the Forest Industry Organisation’s Thai Elephant Conservation Centre officially announced total funds raised at Thailand’s first ever Elephant Polo Tournament.

The tournament held in Hua Hin over the weekend of 15th and 16th September raised 393,129 baht (US$9,142.53). The official cheque was presented to Manoonsak Tuntiwiwut, deputy managing director of the Forest Industry Organisation for the Elephant Conservation Centre.

Oliver Winter (right), an elephant polo player on the Thailand “A” team, presented Bill Heinecke (left), chairman and CEO of Minor Group, and Christopher Stafford - general manager of Anantara Resort and Spa, with a special elephant polo carving on behalf of the Thailand Elephant Polo Team.

Teams from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Australia and Singapore gathered in Hua Hin to participate in the tournament.

His Majesty, The King of Thailand, consented to a trophy for the winning team. This was presented to the winning team’s captain, James Manclark from Nepal.

The general manager of Anantara Resort & Spa, Christopher Stafford, who initiated the event, was delighted to have been able to assist the Elephant Conservation Centre. “Our aims were to raise funds for Elephant Conservation and awareness of Hua Hin. We believe we achieved both of these whilst at the same time forging what we hope to be a long standing relationship with the Elephant Conservation Centre”.

Manoonsak Tuntiwiwut said, “I would like to thank and congratulate Anantara Resort and Spa, Hua Hin for their success and initiative in bringing the first ever Elephant Polo Tournament to Thailand.”

“Through the gala dinner and the elephant painting auction, Anantara raised not only funds for the Elephant Conservation Center but a global awareness of the work carried out by our organisation. We have been able to meet and inform people from around the world on our conservation efforts in Thailand”.

Richard Lair, advisor to the Forest Industry Organisation’s Thai Elephant Conservation Centre said, “The Anantara King’s Cup Tournament was a great success on all fronts. Financially, it raised a lot of much needed money for our Center’s conservation and welfare efforts. Publicity wise, the great media attention did much to spread word of the conditions of Asian elephants in Thailand. And, as an event, it was a lot of fun and greatly enjoyed by all who attended. I sincerely hope we can do it again next year.”

The Elephant Conservation Centre not only offers expert advice but takes care of elephants that are owned by the government and thus by the people of Thailand. Additionally, the centre runs two mobile elephant clinics, an Elephant Rehabilitation Centre and a Mahout Training School to train young elephant riders.

Two projects which have become world famous and assisted in the awareness of Elephant Conservation are the Elephant Art Project and the Thai Elephant Orchestra. The elephant paintings have been sold at auction at Christies in New York and exhibited in galleries in London and Amsterdam.

The Thai Elephant Orchestra has received acclaim from around the world. Their second CD is currently in production.

Anantara Resort & Spa is planning the next event to be held in August 2002. Enquiries have been received from around the world from teams interested in participating in the tournament and the general public.

For further information please contact: Laura Speirs - email [email protected] or Vipasiri Napawonngdee - email [email protected]

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Chonburi Water Buffalo Races Celebrate 130 Years

Every year the province of Chonburi hosts the unique spectacle of water buffalo racing to celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent. This year marked the 130th anniversary of the event, and official “race day” was held on October 1, although the activities began on September 28 and ran until October 7.

Big Billy Belly leads by three lengths heading for home

During the weekend activities, the province also took the opportunity to welcome Chonburi’s new governor, Chaded Insawang, who took office on October 1. (For those of you who might be wondering, former governor Sujarit Pachimnan has been promoted to a post with the Ministry of Interior.)

Chonburi’s buffalo races have become the festival in Chonburi. Complete with “Miss Buffalo” (a woman, not a beast) and “Most Healthy Buffalo” contests, as well as a parade and carnival, Chonburi is transformed into a large party when the area’s prize beasts are brought in to determine which is the fastest.

Beautiful buffalos lead the procession

Provincial historians believe the races and festival were first held when Chonburi was the center of trade for the eastern part of Thailand. Farmers and merchants from the region would descend on Chonburi’s Ban Beung District to trade their goods, bringing their produce and wares by way of buffalo drawn carts. What exactly transpired prompting the first race is uncertain, but provincial historians suggest that it probably started at Wat Luang, now called Wat Yai Intharam. Merchants would park their carts near the market and the water buffalo were tethered off to the side to rest, or taken to bathe following the trip into town where lotus flowers were collected for offerings at the temple. Presumably, there were some fun-seeking individuals at the annual gathering who, at the end of Buddhist Lent and before leaving Chonburi, would gather and race their buffalo for a bit of fun and camaraderie. Water buffalo races eventually became a common reoccurrence each year.

Ah… nothing like a cooling shower for relief from the hot sun

During the reign of King Rama VI, His Majesty King Mongkut visited Chonburi and proudly witnessed the event on 7 December 1912, which helped commemorate the event to this day. Other records indicate that Rama V also witnessed the buffalo races in Chonburi, remarking that the enjoyable event should be preserved as a national tradition.

Bevy of beauties on parade

This year, Chonburi mayor Ukryt Tansawat struck the gong at 9.00 a.m. on October 1 to get the festivities underway. First up was a parade announcing the races were about to begin, complete with a procession of 13 water buffalo driven carts, plus marching bands, groups of long drums, students in traditional dress carrying Chonburi banners, and a bevy of “Miss Ban Na” beauty pageant contestants in pedicabs.

At 2.00 p.m. Sonthaya Khunpluem, the Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, presided over the official opening ceremony of this year’s races, billed as the “130th Annual Chonburi Buffalo Races”.

It’s more difficult than climbing a greased pole!

Water buffaloes, elaborately decorated with flowers, fruit and costumes, were first judged on their “beauty”. Following the presentation of awards for various categories of size, a sacred ceremony was conducted to display gratitude to the spirits at the end of the rainy season. These rituals are also performed at this time, after the rice has been planted, to insure a successful harvest at the end of the year.

Then the races began, with all sizes entered in the competition. Comical clowns added to the gaiety, and the fun-filled races provided much entertainment for visiting tourists.

A variety of other activities were also held throughout the day, including oiled pole climbing contests, tug-of-war, various eating contests and the ever-popular beauty contests.

At the end of the day, a “champion” was crowned, the working animals were returned to the fields and the crowd disbursed to continue the merriment long into the night.

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