Blithe Spirit

Gate Theater’s latest production is Noel Coward’s classic comedy “Blithe Spirit”.It is being presented at the Studio Theatre, Kad Suan Kaew on 24th, 25th 26th and 27th January 2013.

Yesterday I attended the Sunday matinee performance at 2 pm.

This is the synopsis from Gate theatre’s publicity.

For successful author Charles Condomine and his second wife of five years Ruth, life is good. The only blot in his life is the memory of his first wife, Elvira who died seven years previously.

Having cast around for a subject for his next best seller, Charles decides to write a mystery concerning a homicidal medium. In order to gather material, he invites eccentric local medium Madame Arcarti to his home. He also invites his friends the cynical Dr. Bradman and his gullible wife to join in gently poking fun at the unsuspecting medium.

Problems arise though when the séance brings forth Elvira’s beautiful but devious ghost. Worse still, only Charles (and the audience) can see or hear Elvira! As the play progresses, Elvira’s plans go awry and further chaos ensues, until the unlikely cause of all the problems is revealed.

A scheming ghostly wife, a suspicious second wife, an incompetent medium, Edith the accident-prone maid and a jazz loving spirit guide all combine to produce an evening of fun for everybody, all presented by a talented multi-national cast.

The Gate Theatre Group aims “To establish a non-profit English language theater group within the old city of Chiang Mai where residents can become involved in the performing arts, while seeking to entertain, inform, and educate“.

The play has been a great sucess with full houses every performance. I thoroughly enjoyed the show. The standard was remarkably high.
Fortunately I have been able to attend every production since. their first play, The Dodo Bird, at the AUA Concert Hall several years ago.
Here are a few photos I took during the show.

Cabbage Rolls

Glid (Ken) from the Wine Shoppe makes great cabbage rolls. He invited a group of us to his shop last night.

There was Duncan and Debbie

Debbie & Duncan

from Red Deer In Alberta Canada. Shin from Japan, my Canadian friend Don and Glid and his sister.

Cabbage rolls are a popular dish in restaurants here. They are basically steamed cabbage leaaves stuffed with sessoned pork mince. Here is a recipe. I don’t know Glid’s recipe but the sauce is delicious. He served a fresh salad as a starter.

We all had a very pleasant evening. It was all washed down with a bottle of Angove’s Butterfly Ridge red!



Our Group - Shin is Taking the Photo

Glid & his Sister

My Cabbage Roll


Esther Cha

Last night I attended A Junior Recital at the CRK Recital Hall in the College of Music, Payap University.

The artist was Esther Cha.she is a second year student at Payap, majoring in piano performance. The recital was a requirement of the course.

Ester was born in Korea  in 1993 and began playing the piano at 6 years of age. She graduated from Gangwan Arts high school in Korea.

The recital was well attended and at intermission extra chairs were brought in to accommodate those standing. She is obviously very popular with other students who gave her great support.

The programme consisted of,

Sonata KV.576 in D Major                                                                  W.A. Mozart

I Allegro

2 Adagio

3 Allegretto

Etude op.10 No.8 in F Major                                                                     F. Chopin

Etude-Tableaux op. 39 No. 9                                                                    S. Rachmaninoff

Sonata No. 1 op 22                                                                                   A. Ginastera


Concerto No. 2 op. 18                                                                               S. Rachmaninoff

Amazingly she played the whole programme from memory.

After intermission she was joined by her teacher Ajarn Atsuko Seta at another piano and together they payed Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No 2,as a duet, in an outstanding performance.

After the concert she was presented with her performance certificate.

Another fine concert to remind us of how lucky we are to have such outstanding talent here in Chiang Mai.

The video below shows Atsuko Seta (left) and Esther Cha (right) playing a duet at an earlier concert.

Esther Cha

The Capacity Audience





Esther Cha & Atsuko Seta

Esther with her Achievement Certificate

Australia Day 2013

January 26th January is Australia Day. It celebrates the landing of the first fleet at Sydney Cove, after moving from Botany Bay. It is a national holiday. Some groups of aborigines spoil the party by calling it “Invasion Day”

The current Australian population is estimated at 23,452,000 (17 January 2013). This does not include an estimated 1 million Australians living overseas , but it includes the estimated 24% of Australians born overseas (in various nations, but predominantly the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Italy, China, Vietnam, India, the Philippines, and Greece).

Australia’s multicultural policy (16 pages) promotes acceptance of and respect for our cultural diversity. It embraces our Australian-grown customs and the heritage of Indigenous Australians, early settlers, and the diverse range of migrants now coming to this country.

The Baggy Green

The featured pictuure above is The Coat of Arms of Australia.It is a very emotive logo for Australians. It is on the baggy green cap of the Australian cricket team and is on the cover of the Australian passport.

It hangs above the Speakers Chair in the Australian Parliament. Some say it is well placed because both kangaroos and emus cannot run backwards unlike politicians!

Fo people living in Thailand The Australia Celebrates 2013 Concert will be televised live from the lawn in front of Parliament House on The Australia Network at 18:00 on 25th January (Australia Day Eve)

The attached TV commercials are narated by Sam Kekovich a former famous Aussie Rules player.

“The Voices Sing Movie Themes”

Last night there were two concerts at Royal Flora Ratchapuek.

The first was a dinner and symphony orchestra concert in the forecourt of the Royal pavilion. It seemed to be a very posh affair, with starched tablecloths and was beautifully setup. During the night we saw their fireworks and a few hot air baloon  releases.

The second was a concert in the Grand Amphitheatre. It was entitled “The Voices Sing Movie Themes” and featured some of Chiang Mai’s best and most popular artists. They were supported by a heavily amplified 14 piece orchestra. David, Ruth, and I attended.

The concert was a fund raising project by The Lions Club of Chiangmai Inthanon. The introduction to the concert was very boring with promotional videos for Lions played on a big screen at a high volume. Once the concert proper started the content was excellent.

The two comperes were Book Kitavadhana and Tianchai Sooktiang who did so in a very relaxed style, sitting on a couch, sipping wine, provide  by a sponsor, CNX Wine. Cask wine was available at 100 Baht a glass.

Book Kitavadhana studied western classical singing and graduated from The Music College of Payap University. In 2006, he received a scholarship from HRH the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand to study in London , UK , focused on Italian Bel Canto singing technique.         

Book has performed many successful concerts as a soloist with many leading musical groups in Thailand such as Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, Bangkok Combined Choir and Orchestra and Payap Combined Choir and Orchestra. He has performed for HM The Queen of Thailand and has sung in many performances for many of the royalties and honorary guests.

Nowadays, Book Kitavadhana works as a voice teacher, vocal coach and vocal consultant at “Vocal Experts Studio” on the Canal Rd. , Chiang Mai. He is also a volunteer singer for Royal Project Foundation.

Other singers were Ong-ard Kanchaisak and two excellent female singers whose names I did not know.

Ong-ard Kanchaisak graduated from Chiang Mai University and Thammasart University in French Literature and Arts. He is currently vocal coach, singer and freelance French/English-Thai translator, based in Chiang Mai. His musical background started in his early 20 as the singer of University Band and Choir. In 2005, with Payap University Choir, he participated in World Choir Games in China and later in 2007 for the same event with CM Voice Studio Chorus in Austria .

He also attended several international workshops for advanced singer, including International Music Workshop & Master Classes for Voice Training and Opera at Agalin Resort, Loei in 2006, International Summer School for Singers 2008 in Estoril , Portugal , and International Master Classes & Concerts 2009 in Penang , Malaysia .

In 2010 he got the diploma LTCL in Music Performance from Trinity College of Music, London , equivalent to the performance component on completion of a full-time undergraduate course at a conservatoire or other higher education establishment.

In Chiang Mai, he performs regularly Jazz, Musical and Classical Music as a soloist and in groups.

The large screen was used very effectively during the concert. For example before  “As Time Goes By”  from “Casablanca” was sung a film clip from the piano scene in the movie was played which seamlessly blended into  the vocal rendition.

There were many outstanding performances. I enjoyed “Climb Every Mountain” from “The Sound of Music” and “My Heart Will Go On” from “Titanic”

For the finale of the concert the band played “Dancing Queen” from “Abba”. Book came into the audience encouraging everybody to clap hands and/or dance.

I took quite a few photos and I have embedded a video Book of singing “Love Changes Everything”  from a previous concert.

Setting up the Sound Mixer before the Show

Royal Pavilion after Dark







Unknown Singer

Unknown Singer

Book Kitavadhana and Tianchai Sooktiang

Tianchai Sooktiang and Ong-ard Kanchaisak


Chez Marco

It is sometime since I have eaten at Chez Marco. The last time I reviewed it is here.

A pommie friend, David, has his sister, Ruth, visiting from the UK.  Another Canadian friend,, Don, suggested we all have dinner at Chez Marco last night.

Normally I really enjoy this restaurant. Last night however I was disappointed. Maybe it was because I wasn’t feeling all that well.

It was a series of small issues. Firstly the cream of asparagus soup, which was the special, was lukewarm. Don and I asked for ours to be reheated in the microwave. The waitress, who was quite efficient, although a bit impersonal, seemed to be very busy. Ruth and David ordered duck. Ruth’s came with the wrong sauce. I ordered a pork chop. It was supposed to come with chips and vegetables. The chop and the chips were fine but the vegetable consisted of a small piece of tomato, grilled with a cheese sprinkle. Don declared his grilled rainbow trout to be fine!

Sorry about the quality of the pics below.

David & Ruth

My partly demolished Pork Chop





Spectrum Concerts Berlin

Frank Dodge (cello) and Naomi Niskala (piano) from the  group with the unusual name of, Spectrum Concerts Berlin, performed last night at the CRK Recital Hall, Payap University, Nawarat Campus. Frank Dodge actually founded Spectrum Concerts in 1988, in Germany..

This high quality recital attracted a very large audience of about two thirds farang and one third Thai, who supported the performers with great enthusiasm. While I enjoyed Brahms’ Sonata for Cello and Piano in e-Monor Op.38, I found most of the programme fairly heavy going!

Naomi Niskala

 The concert include works by Bach, Toon, Brahms, Helps, Debussy, and Hindemith.


Frank Dodge






Frank Dodge & Naomi Niskala








6 Hands 1 Piano

Last night Chiang Mai University Art Museum in Nimmanhaemindha Road presented, by M & M Productions, three pianists Nicolas Collinet, Jonas Dept, and Matthieu Normand.

This extraordinary recital consists of three pianists sharing one keyboard, transforming the piano into a wonderful orchestra as they create a magnificent and memorable experience for the audience.

The cost of 500 Baht was quite high by Chiang Mai standards.

 The unique repertoire (Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Schubert, Rachmaninov, Rossini… and surprises) invited complexity, energy and fun. The 3 pianists will play original pieces written for 6 hands as well as orchestra transcriptions.

Their rendition of the Overture from The Barber of Seville was a show stopper. They played it again as one of their encores.

Jonas Dept

The artists are three world-class European pianists _ Nicholas Collinet, Jonas Dept and Matthieu Normand, who are all highly accomplished concert performers in their own right. Nicolas Collinet and Mattieu Normand are friends of Chiang Mai resident Jonas Dept.

All three men have impeccable resumes. Nicolas Collinet started the piano at the age of 9 and attended the National Conservatory of the Region of Marseille where he received First Prize in Chamber Music, First in Piano and the Rotary Prize. He continued his studies at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels where he received his Master’s Degree in Piano.

Matthieu Normand studied at the Conservatory in Reims then at the Conservatory (CRR) of Boulogne where he also studied jazz and improvisation. He was awarded First Prize in Piano and obtained a French Master’s Degree in Musicology. He moved to Brussels where he earned a Master’s Degree in Piano.

Jonas Dept started playing the piano at the age of 6, he studied at the Higher Institute for Music and Pedagogy where he earned a First Prize in piano, music theory, and ensemble. He took his Master’s at the Conservatory of Brussels. He moved to Chiang Mai in 2007 where he has lived since then. Fortunately, he retained his friendship with Nicolas and when the two friends made the trip from Belgium, Jonas was their first stop much to the luck of Chiang Mai.

An unknown girl, with a beautiful voice, sang a Chinese song called Ka Sa Long , immediately before intermission. She told me she was half Australian and half Thai. It was treated as anovelty number, with the pianists initially using chopsticks on the piano keys and strings.

Unfortunately the stage lighting was dreadful and the house lights were off, not dimmed, making the reading of the programme impossible. Nevertheless it was a great concert. The use of projection onto a screen during playing was very effective.

I have attached a couple of videos from previous rehearsals and concerts.


6 Hands 1 Piano







Ka Sa Long

Using Chopsticks

Visa Run


After spending the night at Season Nam Korn, I decided to head for the border after breakfast, to get a new stamp in my passport.

I have a Type “O” non-immigrant multiple entry visa. Although it is valid for one year, I am required to exit and re-enter the country every 90 days.

So I headed for the Thai border town of Mae Sai. There is parking available in easy walking distance of the border. Mae Sai is joined by short bridge to Tachilek in Myanmar (Burma). You pass first through Thai immigration, then the Myanmar immigration office. The Myanmar authorities require US$10 or 500 Thai Baht which is vaid for 14 days. Most people of course only visit for the day. In fact if you don’t want to go to the market, you can simply do a u-turn and cross back into Thailand, via the duty free shop for booze. Read the procedure here

I was there on the 30 th December. It was an easy process for passport holders, but there were hundreds and hundreds of Thais with visitor passes going into the market. In fact the market was so crowded that it was an unpleasant experience and I couldn’t return fast enough!

I slept the night in Chiang Rai. Accommodation was very tight but I managed to get a room via Agoda at the Moon House @ Clock Tower hotel.When I located the hotel it was right behind the naughty bar area and I was worried about noise. However I was so tired, I slept like a log!


Lion Statue

Tobacco & Sugar Cane south of Mae Sai


Market in Tachilek

Northernmost Point of Thailand

Bridge on the Border

Burmese Immigration Officer


Nut Seller in Market


Narawat Bridge Over the Ping River

Last night the Dining Out Group ate at DECK1. It is included in the group of restaurants on the Ping river near the Narawat bridge, that includes the Riverside and the Good View. Only a small number of us (6) attended. It was a wonderful, if a little expensive evening.

I can’t praise this restaurant enough.The ambiance is great, although the live music got  a little loud towards the end of the evening.The service staff were excellent. The food was magnificent. I ordered lamb chops followed with a passion fruit souffle.

A wonderful dining experience!

I forgot my camera (again)! Thanks for the photos Nop.

Our Group



Passion Fruit Souffle

Live Music Group

Lamb Chops


City-Life! Photographer, Steve