Festival - Nine Day Fast Cleanses Body and Spirit
homage at the Chinese temple
The chairman of the Sawang Boriboon Foundation, Prasit
Chawalilt-Nittitham, opened the annual Chinese Vegetarian Festival on the
afternoon of October 16 at the Sawang Boriboon Rescue Foundation Center in
opera was part of the beauty of the festival
According to the Chinese calendar the annual festival
occurs in late September or October and continues for nine days as devout
followers of the Chinese tradition refrain from eating meats of any kind.
Close observance is thought to cleanse both the spirit and body with
additional hopes of bringing good fortune.
and gongs kept the beat
A variety of spirits and ghosts, along with supernatural
beings from above and below are mixed in with the festival and nine day
fast. Many areas around Thailand can witness ascetic feats performed by many
of the followers with practitioners walking on burning embers and others
piercing their body with sharp instruments.
in white, devout followers escorted the spirits through the streets of
Naklua on the opening day of the annual Chinese Vegetarian Festival.
In Pattaya the festival began following temple
ceremonies, and a parade that wound its way through the streets of Naklua
beginning at the Sawang Boriboon Rescue Foundation Center. The participants
numbered more than a thousand, and with most clad in white clothing, they
escorted the various deities through the streets.
The festival ended on October 25.
lit huge incense candles and prayed
smoke from the incense was a little much for this youngster
RI President proclaims: Mankind Is Our Business
An uncommon evening with an uncommon man *
by Rotarian Peter Cummins,
Rotary Club of Bangkok South
The Kings came to Bangkok last week and there were more
than 2000 loyal “subjects” gathered at the Queen Sirikit Centre to greet
them, give them tribute and to celebrate their ‘kingdom’.
Rotary International President Richard D. King and First
Lady Cherie flew into Bangkok to a tumultuous welcome from almost every
Rotary Club in Thailand and even a Rotary group from neighbouring Cambodia,
late last week.
young and dashing future RI President as he appeared on the front cover of
The Jomtien-Pattaya and the newly chartered Taksin-Pattaya
Rotary Clubs, along with many others from the Eastern Seaboard were in
evidence and contributed much to the evening’s festivities.
The personable, erudite president, the 91st of the line
since Rotary was founded in 1905, obviously enjoyed the extremely
well-organized event and as Rotarian Veli-Matti Kaikonnen of the
Jomtien-Pattaya Club pointed out, “It was an evening of good feeling and
fellowship certainly enhanced by the friendly and relaxed attitude of the
president and his wife,” with the ambience ranging from semi-official, to
jocular to musical.
to R) Eino-Markku Haapalehto of the Rotary Club of Helsinki-Katajanokka,
Rotary International President-elect Bhichai Rattakul and Veli-Matti
Kaikonnen of the Jomtien-Pattaya Rotary Club
Starting with the traditional Flag Ceremony of the
streaming of the Thai, US and Rotary banners, Past District Governor
Noraseth Pathmanand, chairman of the event’s organizing committee, warmly
welcomed President and Cherie King and was himself honoured by a
presidential citation, the “Regal Eagle” plaque for outstanding service
- only the second person to be so honoured during President King’s tenure.
And who was the other: the Pope John Paul II! PDG Noraseth has arranged,
“The best organized meeting of my career,” the president announced, on
presenting the award.
President King strongly commended President-elect Bhichai
Rattakul, the First Thai national to be so elevated, who he will succeed the
incumbent from July 1, 2002 until 30 June 2003.
President King enjoys a moment with the Interact Club of Banglamung.
A delighted audience heard the president break into, “I
left my heart in San Francisco”, which set the tone for what was to come
during the evening. Well before his numerous Rotary commitments, President
Richard was a member of the Actors Equity, the union for performers, and his
singing talent, so clearly demonstrated last week at Bangkok, was strongly
supported by his abilities as an actor, where his penchant for comedy landed
him roles in such landmark musicals as “Oklahoma”, “South Pacific”
and Damon Runyan’s marvellous comedy, “Guys and Dolls”. The evening,
due to the charm and charisma of Richard and Cherie, was one that the
hundreds of Rotarians who had the good fortune to attend will always
President King visits with members of the Rotary Club of Taksin-Pattaya.
He is the complete embodiment of Rotary and Rotary
ideals. He was born to be president, though in a somewhat different guise.
When his father George moved to Canada to work, and in November, 1938, with
his first son about to be born, King senior opted for Richard to be born the
other side of the border and returned to Illinois, so King junior would be
born on US soil and could become the President of the United States. With
his infectious sense of humour Richard has often said, “I chose to become
President of Rotary instead.”
Even the graceful and lovely Cherie was destined to live
life as a Rotary Ann. A professional dancer in a troupe, which Richard had
hired to perform at a fund-raiser - for Rotary, of course - Cherie, although
holding a degree in economics and business from California State, stayed
with the dance group for 10 years. This beautiful lady should be married to
a Rotarian, Richard surmised and married to a Rotarian she was, is and
always will be!
International President Richard D. King and lovely First Lady Cherie.
“You know,” Richard
told the gathering, “public speaking has not always been easy; it does not
necessarily become second nature to everyone.” He recalled addressing a
group in Mozambique. A small boy approached him later and there was Richard,
pen poised, ready to sign an autograph for this admirer. It did not quite
turn out that way: “Excuse me, Sir,” said the little fellow, “but that
was the worst speech I have ever heard.”
Not one to be flustered, Richard merely smiled and
thought, “What does this kid know anyway?” A day later, with another
group, Richard spotted the same boy. “Ah, his mother has sent him along to
apologize,” Richard surmised. Not quite, again! “At the age of 10, how
do you know what is a good speech; how can you judge?” asked Richard,
soliciting a reply from the boy. “I do not know,” said the lad, “I am
only repeating what everybody else said.”
Listening to the president last week one could only
think, to use an American expression: “You’ve come a long way since
The evening also featured a “Mankind is our business”
display of performing Thai artists and featured, among a number of cultural
interludes, the famous “Angel Dance”.
“Mankind is our Business” is the theme close to the
president’s heart and which he has adopted for his tenure, a guidepost he
“borrowed” from Charles Dickens immortal story, “A Christmas Carol”.
The flint-hearted Scrooge, in the story, is visited by the ghost of his
erstwhile partner who has been relegated to an after-life of regret for his
heartless and selfish behaviour while alive. Scrooge tries to reassure his
former partner, saying “But you were always a good man of business.” The
ghost replies: “Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was
my business; charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence were all my
What could be more appropriate for the New Millennium
with the injustices and inhumanity prevalent, than this all-embracing
concept which President King has adopted as the Rotary ideal, counselling
“let it not be the fate of any Rotarian to live with regret for
humanitarian actions not taken: ‘Mankind IS our Business’.”
But, the show was not over; far from it! The
singer-cum-entertainer characteristic took over, and it was not long before
the stage was packed with District Governors, Rotary Presidents - past and
present - Rotarians and many guests, singing along with the R.I. President.
Fortunately for Richard and Cherie, there was no plane to
catch that night for, although the ‘show’ was scheduled to end,
following the presentation of a memento in true Thai style, it was almost an
hour before the charming couple actually reached the exit. So many hands to
shake, so many photos to be taken with the president, so many pleasantries
to be exchanged!
It was, indeed, a “night to remember” for all,
including, I feel sure, Rotary International President Richard and Rotary
Ann Cherie King.
* The phrase, “uncommon man” has been taken from Paul
J Sandas, Past RI Director, article on President King in “The Rotarian”
Royal Garden Plaza
celebrates 9th anniversary with B80 million in renovations and a grand party
To the strains of Johann Straus played by a symphony
orchestra, Bill Heinecke, the CEO of the Royal Garden Plaza and the Minor
Group network of companies, accompanied Khunying Phankhruah Yongchaiyuth,
the wife of the deputy prime minister and minister of defense, Gen. Chavalit
Yongchaiyuth, on a blue carpeted stroll through the newly revamped Royal
Phankhruah Yongchaiyuth cut the ribbon during the opening ceremony to get
the festivities underway.
Upgraded with 80 million baht in renovations, which were
completed in October, the shopping center boasts big name international
clients to fuel the shopping sprees expected from the projected 30,000
people who will walk through the center each day.
Heinecke (left), the CEO of the Royal Garden Plaza and the Minor Group
network of companies, receives a bouquet of congratulations from Khunying
Phankhruah Yongchaiyuth, the wife of the deputy prime minister and minister
of defense, Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyuth.
Established in 1993, the Royal Garden Plaza covers almost
40,000 square meters and encompasses three floors of retail shopping with
fashion, fast food, restaurants and entertainment outlets.
The Royal Garden Plaza’s 9th Anniversary celebrations
began on October 20 when Khunying Phankhruah Yongchaiyuth cut the ribbon
during the opening ceremony. The length of ribbon stretched from the front
doors on Beach Road all the way through the inside of the plaza to the
fountain court, where Dr. Sax Chamber’s symphony orchestra was playing.
a human set of stairs
The celebrations included a parade passing in front of
the entrance, a fashion show put on by the B B Sar Boutique, with renowned
models presenting a collection from Blue and White Night Celebrate,
traditional Thai dance, and of course cake and champagne.
On October 23, the celebrations continued with
acrobatics, cheerleading and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum
The Royal Garden Plaza and its customers can look forward
to a bright ninth “shopping” year ahead.
visits Pattaya’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum
On September 5, 1952, a beautiful baby girl was born to
the Samaksamarn family in Surin Province. They named her Duangjai. To her
family and neighbors, she was a perfect child; happy and healthy with just
one difference - her strangely large hands and arms. Her parents believed
everything was normal but as she grew older, her hands and arms grew larger.
And they kept growing and growing.
E. Heinecke (right) and Vichai Lertlitrichai (left) presented Duangjai with
a certificate documenting her extraordinary hands.
No one realized that her oversized hands and arms were
caused by a hormone imbalance. Hoping to right the wrong, she had two
operations, one when she was 25 and another 5 years later. The operations
proved to be disastrous. Instead of stopping the growth, they activated the
cells causing the arms and hands to grow even larger.
Despite her physical drawback, Duangjai leads a happy,
normal life. She used to sell noodles, and sometimes the villagers would
hire her to help when their pigs were having difficulty giving birth.
Now at 49, with hands and arms weighing more than 10
kilograms each and still growing, Duangjai lives with her parents and 4
other younger brothers and sisters in a small village, running a grocery
store at home and working the rice fields from time to time.
On October 20, William E. Heinecke, the owner of the
Pattaya Royal Garden Plaza and CEO of the Minor Group Network of companies,
and Vichai Lertlitrichai, PR manager of Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum,
presented Duangjai with a certificate documenting her extraordinary hands.
Contest 2001 Shakes the Planet
As part of the Royal Garden Plaza’s 9th anniversary
celebrations, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum organized a screaming
contest on October 23, and the noises produced could have woke the dead.
Chetanasamrytchot belts out his winning scream
Held by the fountain on the ground floor, the screams
emanating from the contestants could be heard throughout the plaza, and
truly “shook the planet”.
Contestants were judged on loudness, uniqueness and how
long the scream prevailed. Electronic equipment was used to measure the
decibel level andx length of each shriek. Five judges totaled the points.
Contestants competed for cash prizes and the distinctive
honor of being the best screamer in Pattaya. They were also able to
alleviate any stress or personal hostilities in the process.
Wonganu was voted a media favorite
After 30 contestants wailed away, the winning scream,
measured at 102 decibels and continuing for a total of 3 minutes 59 seconds,
came from Chotchai Chetanasamrytchot, a 39-year-old resident from Bangkok.
Judges were impressed by his technique and uniqueness and after the air
cleared he was presented the B10,000 cash prize, the winning trophy and a
certificate from Ripley’s Believe It or Not designating the rare
Adirek Phutwisedsan screamed 2nd best and was awarded a
trophy and certificate with a 5,000 baht cash prize.
Thinkorn Wonganu, a local student from Pattaya City
School 8, was voted a favorite among the news media, and for his efforts he
received a trophy, a 3,000 baht cash prize, and the certificate denoting the
Mid-Life Crisis - And
All That Jazz
by Peter Cummins
Having worked for that marvellous ‘organ’ of the
Eastern Seaboard, the Pattaya Mail for several years, I became aware
of a rather numerous geriatric population in Pattaya. No; not at the Mail
itself for, apart from myself and the venerable Dr. Iain who is
comparatively ‘young’, the rest are all too young to have experienced a
mid-life crisis. Even managing director, Peter Malhotra, is too young to
This is the first of a two-part story about one man’s
mid-life crisis. The second section will be a hilarious look at how some men
cope and some men DO NOT cope with this phase of life.
The Swinging Sixties...
“When I am old and am losing my hair, many years from
now/Will you still be sending me a Valentine, birthday greetings, a bottle
of wine?/If I’ve been out ‘til a quarter to four, would you lock the
door?/Will you still need me, would you still feed me/WHEN I’M 64?”
These prophetic lyrics of the Beatles, extracted from
their album “Sergeant Pepper”, were among the thousands which they
produced throughout the “Swinging Sixties”. However, as a raw
“youth” of 35 then, struggling to survive the tough environment of New
York City, the mere thought of ever being 64 was just a remote possibility
on some far horizon. Frankly, I thought all the rest of these hypothetical
projections would remain in place, but that I would never make it through to
is PC before his MLC
Quite the contrary happened. Apart from now “being old
and losing my hair” and having always been convinced that I was “born
old”, I reached 64 two years ago - and it was not that much of a shock.
Of course, all the rest of the Beatles’ suppositions
have long gone. The Valentines and birthday greetings, pathetic at best,
ceased almost as soon as they started. Bottles of wine I can find on a
supermarket shelf. Staying out until “a quarter to four”.\ - forget it -
door locked or not! Certainly, “Nobody needs me; nobody feeds me - and now
But along the way, I have had the distinction of joining
that burgeoning army of males who have reached, survived and, in many cases,
triumphed over the mid-life crisis (MLC), also known as the “Male
One of the most recent and best-known mid-life crisis
examples would have to be brilliant Academy-Award winning actor Richard
Dreyfuss. In a feature reported in the Bangkok Post (10 August 2001),
Dreyfuss said that, “He still wants to be a teacher when he grows up, but
at age 53 finds himself in the throes of a ‘fascinating’ midlife
crisis.” He is playing the lead role in a new CBS dramatic series about a
fiftyish university professor coming to terms with his former childhood
dreams and the realities of the doubts and dread of pre-senior citizenry.
For Dreyfuss, his own MLC has imposed a new sense of
uncertainty and perplexity about life. “I now see life through this new
filter of questioning and uncertainty,” he says, “about things that I
was damn sure of 20 years ago - an experience I believe many men my age have
Mid-Life Crisis: what is it?
Regarded generally as the decade between 40 and 50,
alternatively labelled as “the deadline decade for men between 35 and
45”, by Gail Sheehy in the book “Passages”, the mid-life crisis, as
one would expect, is under intense scrutiny in the West. Everyone, as usual,
has an opinion: psychiatrists, medics, sociologists, geneticists,
scientists, the media, the antagonists in the “war between the sexes”,
the fitness and health spa fanatics, captains of industry... the line-up is
is PC after his MLC
The mid-age - or mid-life - crisis also presents a
midriff crisis: the body just will not fit into that old suit. But sadder
than that, even as the body is complaining, one is not able to give up that
self-image of a long-lost youth.
In the more family-oriented societies such as Thailand
and India, the crisis had been traditionally contained through the extended
family where there was a place and time for all members and phases of life.
Now, even in these countries, where mores are breaking down and the large,
protective family is rapidly becoming the nuclear unit. Thus, the pressures
on the middle-aged male reached a peak at around 45 - a time when he has to
see his parents “out of life” while simultaneously settling his children
“into life”. It comes at the same time when he has to compete with much
younger graduates in the work-place, a trapped feeling of failure at home
Today’s child grows up much faster, with values not
emanating from the family but, rather, coming hot off the television,
videos, magazines and rock bands. The father figure is all but gone by the
time a child is in the mid-teens. They know much more than their parents did
at that age.
Mid-life is the time when a man sees clearly that he is
not going to be immortalized in a public statue, to be the subject of a
hot-selling biography, write a novel or paint a masterpiece. The realization
comes very quickly that “this is it; I must coast along now, perhaps to
64”; or as a tee-shirt I recently saw said it so succinctly: “Same sh—,
Different Day”. Fortunately, because of the dismal message it conveyed,
the shirt was adorning the chest of a well-endowed young lady.
I simply cannot recall MLC - probably because my total
life has been one long crisis - reeling from one error only to plunge into a
worse one or, as Alexis Zorba said it so succinctly in the film “Zorba the
Greek” (also 60s vintage): “What is a man; is he not stupid? I am a man,
so I married: wife, children, house, everything - the FULL catastrophe.”
Apart from that, I find it hard to recall what has been
noted as “the most disturbing of all seasons in a man’s life ... the
decade between 40 and 50 is a time of transition, of intense questioning -
when fantasy collides with reality.”
Maybe escaping the Western worship of youth and retaining
it at all costs “delayed” my crisis and allowed me to “avoid the worst
of (Western) values, captive to the tyranny of youth where every new wrinkle
is regarded as a visiting card of death”.
Like everything in my life, I think that if the MLC did
strike, it came late: I was born late, I am usually late for appointments
and meetings and, in many scenarios, I am a “Peter-come-lately”.
Undoubtedly, however, giving up the Western rat-race at
about the time that MLC should have struck, was the major factor. Arriving
in Thailand just prior to my fortieth year was the catalyst. Coming then to
a country of strong family ties, beautiful people and an unsurpassed way of
life - at least in the 70s and 80s - and preferential treatment as a
“farang”, I did not give a remote thought to my impending ‘crisis’.
Now, most of the friends I have here are all “Golden
Oldies”, including the recently-formed Bangkok Bangers Rugby Union Club
the average age of which, compared to the rest I know, is quite junior. Yet
none of them seems to be in the grip of MLC.
In the immediate post-Beatle era, when I did receive the
odd birthday card, even those had a message, one from my favourite MLC
‘graduate’ stands out: “From 20 to 30 if you’re feelin’
right/It’s ONCE in the morning and ONCE at night.../From 30 to 40, if
you’re still living right/You SKIP the MORNING but continue at NIGHT!/From
40 t0 50, it’s NOW and THEN.../And from 50 to 60, it’s GOD KNOWS
WHEN!/From 60 on, if you’re STILL INCLINED/ believe me, FELLA - IT’S ALL
IN YOUR MIND! Thirty years on, I am still trying to work out what it means!
here is PC as we know him today
Probably my only concession to the dreaded MLC was to try
and fix a mouthful of dreadful fangs which could well have been a feature
display in an orthodontic museum. Although - even now - I can boast a
“full monty” of 32 teeth, there was so much amalgam and lead in there
that I sometimes had a problem passing through airport and other security
checks setting off the alarms.
A visit to the dentist many moons ago was also not too
encouraging when he suggested I keep all the fillings and have the rest out!
Nevertheless, he relented and repaired me - and a good job he did too. I
practiced grinning showing full upper and lower fronts. Devastating, I
Of course, my secretary was somewhat startled to see this
inane grinning from her erstwhile (relatively) conservative boss. “Do you
notice anything different?” I asked. She studied me carefully - face,
clothing, shoes. I grinned until my jaws ached. She looked and looked, face
wrinkled with concentration. Suddenly, she had the answer. “Oh, yes, you
look very different without your glasses - almost handsome,” she conceded
I think that was the beginning - and END - of my mid-life
crisis. The rest of the trappings which appear to have engulfed many Western
males, causing them untold grief, uncertainty and, often, an inability to
handle the biological changes, seem to have passed me by.
Perhaps one could summarize all this by a quote from a
learned Indian industrialist, Navjot Dev, now 61 who contends: “The 40s to
the 50s can be a very depressing time for a man, but it can also culminate
in a second flowering - the light of self-discovery at the end of the
passage. It is a process to gain wisdom, compassion, understanding and
perspective”. At this stage, Dev adds, “many men find that they can no
longer jog two kilometres, but they can walk six. And some have everything -
money fame and status and can contribute something back,” he concludes.
“The way out of this frightening passage of life is to
let it happen. The middle of the journey can also be a time of renewal,”
adds another industrialist.
I agree entirely and finish with the words of the
incomparable Maurice Chevalier, singing in the 1950s revue, “Gigi”:
“And I’m glad I’m not young anymore!”
Updated every Friday.
Copyright 2001 Pattaya Mail Publishing Co.Ltd.
370/7-8 Pattaya Second Road, Pattaya City, Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel. 66-38 411 240-1, 413 240-1, Fax: 66-38 427 596
Chinnaporn Sangwanlek, assisted by Boonsiri Suansuk.
E-Mail: [email protected]
The Rotary Club
By The Sea