HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Tourism businesses and TAT organize “Unseen Thailand” campaign to restructure selling strategy

Unseen Thailand - Amazing sites at Sriracha Tiger Zoo

Chonburi celebrates national Labor Day with free concert in Sriracha

Buddhist Holy Day of Wisakhabucha - May 15

Thai Fruit Wine & Satho, Best of the Year 2003 project to initiate local alcohol business at grassroots level

Tourism businesses and TAT organize “Unseen Thailand” campaign to restructure selling strategy

Thai tourists expected to salvage national income lost after Gulf war and SARS

Patcharapol Parnrak

The war on Iraq and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) concurrently reduced the number of visitors to Thailand by 50 to 70% in the past few months. To help rebuild the negative impact on national tourism, many tourism businesses cooperated with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to launch a campaign called ‘Unseen Thailand’. The campaign is being promoted in conjunction with the ongoing campaign ‘Thais travel Thailand’ launched earlier this year.

Riding an elephant through a miniature "Stonehenge" at Nong Nooch.

Interesting and under-promoted destinations in various sectors, including eco- tourism, were brought to the attention of tourists through cooperation between the government and private sectors in many regions. In Chonburi, particularly Sattahip, the TAT office has highlighted 2 destinations that they believe will successfully draw large numbers of tourists.

Sunset at the beach - with an elephant.

Thais are being encouraged to save the economy by visiting tourist destinations like Nong Nooch.

Baan Chang Tai Thai, situated in Soi Na Jomtien 50, between the 163 and 165 kilometer-markers on Sukhumvit Road, arranged a campaign to attract elephant riding and nature lovers at 50 baht per round. Tourists will get an opportunity to ride on an elephant’s back along the beach and view the sunset. Baan Chang Tai Thai manager said he is sure that it has never happened before anywhere and expedition lovers should not miss it.

Nong Nooch Gardens also organizes animal talent shows performed by well-trained elephants and monkeys and a buffet lunch at only 199 baht per person. The price is offered only during national holidays. A miniature of Stonehenge, England is also another highlight at Nong Nooch.

Manit Boonchim, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand Central Region 3, Pattaya office said that the office had recently cooperated with Pattaya City, Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, Thai Hotel Association Eastern Chapter, Pattaya Hotel Association, Chonburi Tourist Attraction Association, and Pattaya Restaurant Association and called for their participation in the newly created campaign called "Pattaya-Chonburi Happy Holidays Project" to lure Thai tourists with special discounts of 20% to 50%, starting May 1 and running until July 31 this year.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand office will soon start distributing brochures to the public. The director hopes that the many campaigns created would help boost tourism in the area.

Unseen Thailand - Amazing sites at Sriracha Tiger Zoo

Strange show enthralls visitors as pigs nurse baby tigers and tigers suckle piglets

The new "Unseen Thailand" tourist campaign is uncovering some weird sights that are delighting tourists who are searching for something different.

Tiger cubs and piglets share mum Benjamaj the pig’s milk.

How comfortable - a living rug.

Although the Sriracha Tiger Zoo is off the beaten track, it is nonetheless quite a famous zoo, with one of the world’s most successful breeding programs for tigers. But breeding tigers is not its only agenda. Entertaining and fascinating shows are what really bring in the crowds of visitors to this unique zoo.

Visitors recently witnessed some bizarre feeding habits of the zoo’s most famous inhabitants. A two-year-old female pig named Benjamaj is a blended pedigree of parents, Land-Less and Las-White, that were imported from Norway. Benjamaj is a kind and maternal porky. She has taken 4 baby tigers under her care and along with 3 tiny piglets is nursing the tigers as though she were their mum. She loves those cats and they love her back.

In the wild, pigs would ordinarily be easy prey for tigers. But the Sriracha Tiger Zoo has a reputation for accomplishing the impossible, and creating successful relationships with animals of different species is right up their alley.

Mmmm, just like mama used to make.

Momma tiger Saimai says, "These are my ‘kids’ - don’t even think about making bacon out of them! Grrrr."

Unbelieving, wide-eyed tourists pressed their noses up to the cage to get a better look. As they moved on to the next cage they were in for another surprise, as there, a great Royal Bengal tigress was lolling on her side and suckling 6 tiny piglets.

‘Momma’ tiger Saimai is two years old and as a baby was suckled by a pig until she was 4 months old. This democratic start in life allowed her to form a loving relationship with other pigs and even a dog. Food in the wild, maybe - but at the zoo, tourists who witness these amazing scenes come away with food for thought.

This is living proof that under certain circumstances differences in life don’t have to create friction. Surely the Sriracha Tiger Zoo is sending a message to us Homo sapiens that we can also live in peace and harmony.

Chonburi celebrates national Labor Day with free concert in Sriracha

Songklod Kaewvisit

May 1st is celebrated around the world as Labor Day. In Thailand it is a day when the government and most employers recognize the importance of workers and afford them a day off.

Free health checks were part of the services being offered at the fair.

Famous Luk Thung singer Mike Phiromporn was one of the featured performers at the free concert.

A "job board" was set up to list openings.

Doctors provided free lung tests.

This year, the Chonburi Labor and Social Welfare Department hosted May Day celebrations at the Pacific Park Shopping Center in Sriracha by putting on a free concert featuring well-known Luk Thung singer Mike Phiromporn. Other shows and a job fair were included in the day’s activities.

The event, held in cooperation with the Chonburi Labor and Social Welfare Department Office and the National Labor and Social Welfare Department, allowed workers to queue up for free health checks, receive consultations in a number of booths as well as learn about recruitment for various positions that are now available either within the departments or through private companies.

Following the formalities of the day a free concert was organized by LT Organize Co. Ltd.

Many people turned up at the Labor Department booths during the Labor Day fair for free health checks and consultations.

The Laborer Development Institute set up a special booth to inform people about possible job openings.

The concert was packed and many beat the heat by heading for the shopping center’s air-conditioning to listen to this popular entertainer.

Buddhist Holy Day of Wisakhabucha - May 15

Celebrating the birth - enlightenment and death of the Buddha

This coming week, on May 15, one of the most venerated holidays on the Buddhist calendar will be celebrated: Wisakhabucha Day.

(Note: government offices and banks will be closed.)

Wisakhabucha Day is the most significant holy day for Buddhists around the world. It marks the beginning of the Buddhist Era 2,546 years ago, and celebrates the miracle of the Buddha being born, reaching enlightenment and passing away all on the same date.

According to scripture, Prince Siddhartha, also known as Gautama, who became the Buddha, was born in the eastern foothills of the Himalayas on the 15th day (full moon) of the sixth lunar month in 623 BC, attained enlightenment while sitting under a fig tree at the edge of the Nerunchara River on the 15th day (full moon) of the sixth lunar month in 588 BC, and then passed away at the age of 80 on the 15th day (full moon) of the sixth lunar month in 544 BC.

The word wisakabucha comes from the word wisaburanamiibucha which means to pay homage to Buddha on the day of the full moon in the month of wisaka (the sixth month).

The holy day is observed each year during May (June during leap years), determined by the lunar calendar, and is on the 15th day of the waxing moon during the 6th month of the Thai calendar. It dates back to ancient celebrations in India and Sri Lanka, and this year the day is being observed on May 15.

For this holiday, killing any kind of animal and drinking alcohol or intoxicating substances is forbidden for 3 days. Wats are to be adorned with lanterns, flowers and joss sticks as symbols of worship, and skyrockets will be lit for three days to celebrate.

The day is also designated as National Tree Day in Thailand.

Gautama (Buddha) was brought up in the family of a clan leader of regal status, sheltered from life’s miseries. Later in life, after observing a decrepit old man, a diseased man, a dead man, and a sage he realized the impermanence of earthly things and began his quest for enlightenment.

For six years he sought enlightenment through ascetic practices. He eventually decided it was not to be found in that manner and resumed the life of a wanderer living on alms. While sitting under a fig tree in a posture of meditation for what is described as a period of seven weeks, Gautama resolved not to stir until succeeding. He achieved his quest, becoming the Buddha, entering a state of Nirvana while still alive.

Whatever took place on that day was the start of Buddhism as Gautama set forth to reveal his discovery, eventually spreading into many parts of Asia. Gautama was later recognized as one in a great line of Buddhas with a concept going back to Vishnu or Siva.

The large following created over 25 centuries ago and continuing to this day is witness to the fact that something of distinct value was found, which was explained in the Buddha’s first sermon at Benares when he said the key to enlightenment is the presence of suffering.

The sermon told of the "Four Noble Truths" identifying suffering (birth, decay, illness, death and rebirth) and the failure to always be able to obtain one’s desires as the continuing antagonists in life.

Secondly, since everything has a cause, so has suffering, and when its causes and conditions are removed suffering is eliminated according to the third truth. The key is to allow the karmic effects already in existence to play out - not producing any further karmic chains. Once the cessation of desire ends, all causes have taken affect and the suffering ends, leading to discontinuing the cycle of rebirth.

The fourth truth is the path to the cessation of suffering, the "Eightfold Path" or a "middle way" between extremes of abstinence and indulgence. The steps in the "Eightfold Path" consists of: correct views, correct aspiration, correct speech, correct conduct, correct livelihood, correct effort, correct thought, and correct concentration or meditation.

Devout Buddhists consider Wisakhabucha Day as an important event and crowds of devotees will participate in ceremonies at nearby temples, making merit in the morning by bringing alms to monks and listening to sermons. Later in the evening devotees will continue assembling at temples to conduct the "Wien Tien" ceremony, walking around sacred temple grounds three times holding candles, joss sticks and flowers honoring the Buddha, the Dhamma (Buddha’s teachings) and the Sangha, the Buddhist Monastic Order.

The Thai government implemented "National Tree Day" in the year 1985 as part of a program to restore the forests and increase public awareness of the importance of preserving the natural environment. National Tree Day was designated on the same day as Wisakhabucha Day and activities include many levels of government, schools and local organizations planting trees in addition to observing Wisakhabucha Day.

Thai Fruit Wine & Satho, Best of the Year 2003 project to initiate local alcohol business at grassroots level

Suchada Tupchai

Wutisak Remkijikarn, Pattaya deputy mayor opened the Thai Fruit Wine & Satho, Best of the Year 2003 event at Amari Orchid Resort Pattaya in the presence of many distinguished guests, including Rewat Phonlukin, vice president of Chonburi Organization Administration, and Sawanee Wongmuang, head of social loan department of Government Savings Bank. Many wine and Satho business operators set up booths to exhibit their products to the general public for a free tasting and to participate in the contest.

Honored guests and contest winners sample the best the region has to offer.

This year the three main government banks that initiated the Thai Fruit Wine and Satho competition and funded the project were the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank, Bank of Agriculture and Corporate, and Government Savings Bank.

The Wine and Satho Research Institute of Rachamonkol Technology Institute, and Thai Fruit Wine and Satho Association helped in supervising quality and taste control.

The competition was for the best tasting Wine and Satho in the central and eastern region of Thailand. Winners will participate in the bigger and more aggressive competition in Bangkok. Since Thai Fruit Wine and Satho are becoming popular nationwide, the government is confident that when it is well promoted to the world, it can become one of the spearheading export products of Thailand.

After the judges had tasted the wine and Satho from different booths, they were still sober enough to add up the scores.

In the red wine category, the winners were Chukkru of Kratumban Farmer Union, Tientalay of Bangkok Pattana Winery Company, and Wine Krajeab of Jinda Wine Company.

In the Satho category, the winners were Satho Srakaew of Satho Srakaew Company, Mangkornthong of Prachin Winery, and Satho Renu of Thai Global Company.

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