Archive | November, 2015

Tags: ,

EU anti-terror chief wants passenger data sharing by this month

Posted on 30 November 2015 by admin

BARCELONA – EU counter-terror chief Gilles de Kerchove called Monday for the European parliament to secure an agreement with member states that would require airlines to share passenger data by the end of the year.

EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, pictured on August 29, 2015, wants the so-called Passenger Name Record to be implemented in the European Union by the end of 2015

Calls for the so-called Passenger Name Record (PNR) system to be implemented in the European Union have risen in intensity since the deadly Paris attacks, despite reservations over the issue of protecting personal information.

Speaking in Barcelona alongside Spain’s Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, de Kerchove said the PNR was an “essential tool.”

“I hope that the European parliament will be able to reach an agreement before the end of the year on an efficient PNR,” he told reporters just weeks after the attacks in the French capital that left 130 dead.

The United States has for years been pushing the European Union to adopt a PNR system to tighten security, and President Barack Obama once again called on the 28-member bloc to implement it in the wake of the attacks.

The two agreed on the exchange of data in 2010 which the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said offered full data protection but many MEPs were suspicious and repeatedly held up approval.

Revelations of US intelligence snooping boosted such doubts but recent attacks by Islamist extremists in Europe have changed the tone.

In July, the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Commission narrowly approved plans for a PNR, and the parliament started talks with member states in the view of getting a final accord by the end of this year.

Fernandez Diaz and his French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve both called for the urgent creation of this system at an emergency meeting of EU interior and justice ministers earlier in the month.

Get full Bangkok Post printed newspaper experience on your digital devices with Bangkok Post e-newspaper. Try it out, it’s totally free for 7 days.

Article source:ϼEwants0Epassenger0Edata0Esharing0Eby0Ethis0Emonth/story01.htm

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

US to cut visa-free visits

Posted on 30 November 2015 by admin

WASHINGTON – After recent extremist attacks, the United States is to “tighten” security procedures for its visa waiver program for visitors from friendly countries, the White House said Monday.

Travellers who are eligible to come to the United States without a visa will henceforth be screened for prior travel to any country deemed a “terrorist safe haven

Among other measures, travellers who are eligible to come to the United States without a visa will henceforth be screened for prior travel to any country deemed a “terrorist safe haven.”

US federal agents will also work with the authorities in countries whose citizens are eligible for visa-free travel to help them collect biometric data.

And US “foreign fighter surge teams” will deploy to areas where there is a concern that jihadists returning from war zones may seek onward travel to the United States.

In a fact sheet announcing the measures, the White House appealed to Congress to help fund further security measures for visitors from the 38 visa-waiver countries.

Get full Bangkok Post printed newspaper experience on your digital devices with Bangkok Post e-newspaper. Try it out, it’s totally free for 7 days.

Article source:ᙼ/s/4be5adcf/sc/24/l/0L0Sbangkokpost0N0Ctravel0Caround0Ethe0Eglobe0C780A9250Cus0Eto0Ecut0Evisa0Efree0Evisits/story01.htm

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

Restructuring a masterpiece

Posted on 30 November 2015 by admin

The Sivamokhaphiman Throne Hall.

Stepping into the newly renovated front building of the National Museum Bangkok, visitors may be reminded of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or the Louvre in Paris. We’re not really there yet, but with a new design, tasteful� lighting, concise bilingual descriptions and exquisite ancient artefacts displayed in a wider space to highlight their unique beauty, the 128-year-old museum has a new lease of life.

“This hall looks completely different from what I am used to seeing. I remember it used to be divided into small rooms depicting Thai history chronologically. That was less interesting,” said a Thai visitor in her 40s, who has been to the History of Thailand Exhibition Hall several times.

Phra Sitthitecho, a Buddhist monk who has visited museums in Europe, as well as the US, echoed the same sentiment: “The hall looks wider and does not smell musty. The new lighting is dimmer but looks good. This museum meets international standards. I noticed most of these sculptures were previously shown in other buildings and are now placed here.”

The hall has become very popular and attracted many more visitors. Most of them, as shown above, express their contentment with the change – especially the way each artefact, from Buddha statues to archaeological objects, is displayed separately on a raised platform, like most international museums, giving it breathing room and an aura. 

The project, which is the pioneer of the Ministry of Culture’s “living museum” policy, involved the restoration of Sivamokhaphiman Throne Hall of the former Front Palace, which has long served as the museum’s Thai History Exhibition Hall. It opened in September to mark Thai Museums’ Day. 

Sivamokhaphiman Throne Hall was built in 1782 by the viceroy and younger brother of King Rama I. But in 1885, it was abandoned, and was turned into a Royal Museum in 1887 during the reign of King Rama V. In the reign of King Rama VII, the king allowed the use of the entire Front Palace as the Vajirayan Library and the National Museum Bangkok. In 1967, the hall was turned into the museum’s exhibition room focusing on prehistoric times.

A bronze Buddha image from Ayutthaya is one of the many masterpieces on display.

In 1982, it was named the National Museum History of Thailand, and the hall was modified and divided into rooms featuring exhibitions on different periods of Thai history, such as Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Thon Buri and Rattanakosin, through models and multimedia.

This year under the new design, the hall has been brought back to its traditional Thai beauty and the Thai History Exhibition was improved through the display of 111 masterpieces, which were formerly kept in the National Museum Bangkok, Khon Kaen National Museum and Sawan Woranayok National Museum. They are displayed chronologically – from prehistoric times to the Dvaravati, Srivijaya, Lop Buri, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Rattanakosin periods – in order to inform visitors about the civilisations of this country and its people. 

The facelift is in line with newly appointed Fine Arts Department director-general Anan Chuchote’s policy.

“I provided the policy to develop all national museums into lifetime learning centres for people of all ages and educational levels because these museums are sources of ancient artefacts and art pieces, which are a national heritage,” Anan said.

He added that the department is speeding up the process of creating and digitalising complete lists of ancient artefacts and art pieces in its collection. The National Museum Bangkok consists of many former throne halls and royal mansions, and after the work at the Front Palace, Uttraphimuk Hall is being developed into a textile museum, while Surasinghanart Hall and Prapasphipitthaphan Hall are undergoing facelifts. The aim is to turn the National Museum Bangkok, which had fallen into neglect and largely ignored, into a leading museum in the Asean region.

The same facelifts will be applied to other museums around the country, with the Office of National Museums providing academic assistance to help museums across the country achieve high standards – in displaying exhibitions, signage, description – as well as improving professionalism among curators, especially in terms of services, academic aspects, activities and English proficiency.

Phombootra Chandrajoti, director of the Office of National Museums, said that there is already a plan for the next fiscal year to improve the National Gallery, the Royal Elephant National Museum and the Royal Barge Museum. The office will run a pilot project to improve five to seven museums in the provinces. It regularly organises training and academic seminars for national museum curators nationwide.

The newly renovated National Museum Bangkok.

“After the renovation, this museum will get a new face,” the director said. “It can be seen clearly in the Sivamokhaphiman Throne Hall, which features the history of Thailand. It has opted for displaying ancient artefacts one by one [instead of putting them in groups inside cabinets]. It has become very popular and the number of visitors has doubled and exceeded 10,000 per month since we reopened in September. We are on the right track.”

According to him, the budget for renovating Sivamokhaphiman Throne Hall was less than 50 million baht. It was worth every satang, said Phombootra, since the project brought the throne hall back to its past glory.

The display pattern is in line with standards for ancient artefact museums by emphasising the elegance of the objects. The newly installed bases and lights in particular are central to the new mood – more modern, less stuffy, and more sophisticated. The descriptions that were once long and textbook-like have been edited to be more user-friendly, and more attractive to newcomers. Thai and English audio guides are available for free.

To the director, the new face of this exhibition room was inspired mainly by museums in Japan in terms of display and lighting. Artefacts are displayed chronologically from prehistoric times and the Dvaravati Period to the Rattanakosin Period. Those in the main hall, especially the masterpieces, are shown one by one, while there are glass cabinets on both sides showing other objects.

“I am satisfied with the results. This is the right approach. We must make things simple and easy to understand. There is no need to use too much modern technology since the artefacts are exquisite,” the director said.

Located near Sanam Luang and the Grand Palace, the National Museum Bangkok is open 9am-4pm on Wednesday-Sunday and national holidays (except New Year and Songkran Festival). Admission fee is 30 baht per person for Thai citizens and 200 baht per person for foreigners. Call 02-224-1333

The first inscription stone.

The Wheel of the Law and a crouching deer are from the Dvaravati period, dating back to the 7th century. Both were found at Wat Saneha in Nakhon Pathom province.

Representing the Srivijaya Period, this famous bust of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara dates back to the late 9th century. It was found at Wat Wiang in Chaiya district, Surat Thani.

The newly renovated National Museum Bangkok.

This 53cm-tall kettle bronze drum dates back 2,400-2,700 years ago. It was found at Wat Kasemjittaram in Uttaradit province.

The statues of Hindu gods Vishnu and Shiva.

The newly renovated National Museum Bangkok.

Article source:

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

Just toying around

Posted on 27 November 2015 by admin

Whether you’re a fanboy or an obsessive otaku, you’re likely to have a few� nerd-out moments at Tooney Venue, which has positioned itself as a toy “museum”, although the place feels more like someone’s personal home stuffed with collectibles.

Tooney Venue is made up of two areas. In front is a café and toy store, while a large two-storey building serves as the museum. An area of artificial grass with some playground equipment is located in front of museum building.

The first two rooms serve as reception and living area. There are some plush dolls and armchairs perfect for your basic, cute Instagram pictures. Kids can colour a fish, a starfish or a crab on a special piece of paper and place it on a panel, which displays the image on largeÂ�monitors.

The first exhibition zone awaits you upstairs. It’s a hallway lined with figures of American superheroes, Gundam, Masked Riders, robots from the Super Sentai series and more. A larged, pixelated Mario figure serves as a precursor for the second zone, which is most impressive in terms of design. The high ceiling is decorated with giant film strips, and the room is lined on both sides with collectibles featuring Mickey Mouse, Coca-Cola, Lego and more. The next zone is obviously catered to girls, featuring Barbie dolls, Monster High dolls and the Disney princesses. The final zone contains dolls and toys from Japanese anime and Pixar movies, among others.

Most interesting to us are the Hot Toys figures. The Hong Kong-based company is known for its super-realistic figures from Hollywood movies. It’s quite interesting to see Robert Downey Jr’s bearded Tony Stark (and Iron Man) in a 1:6 scale. Another highlight is a large display of life-sized replicas of iconic movie props, such as Captain America’s shield, wands from the Harry Potter series and Wolverine’s claws. 

At first you will feel like a kid lost in a toy store, but the novelty quickly wears off. Although we are impressed by the sheer amount amassed here, we think the museum needs better organisation (we found Chucky next to Kermit the Frog). Items are encased in glass boxes, but are not presented engagingly. There are boxes of information to be read here and there, but that’s dry for a toy museum. Ticket prices are very reasonable (B150 per person, B100 per child — add B100 for foreigners), but we suggest you check it out only ifÂ�convenient.

Tooney Venue is at the mouth of Si Saman Soi 8, Si Saman Road, in Pak Kret district of Nonthaburi. The museum opens Fri-Sun, from 10am-8pm. The café opens daily, from 9am-7pm. Visit

Article source:

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

The five-star farm

Posted on 27 November 2015 by admin

The allure of Chiang Mai draws all types of nature-seekers to the north of Thailand. The mountainous region offers countless opportunities to connect with Mother Earth, whether it’s trekking, forest zip-lining, bathing baby elephants or, you know, simply admiring green areas larger than Bangkok’s public parks.  

Flower arranging with P’Noi.

But there are a few more pursuits to be added on your outdoorsy itinerary. And to take part in them, you won’t need to leave the stunning grounds of the Four Seasons Chiang Mai.   

Pulling into the hotel’s driveway, the warm welcome I received came in the form of towering trees and swaying branches. The structural beauty of the five-star hotel is stunning in its own right, but is simply incomparable to the surrounding landscape (both are the work of architect Bill Bensley). The abundance of foliage and greenery means sightings of butterflies, squirrels and red-whiskered bulbuls are daily enjoyments. As the sun sets, cicadas and frogs take centre stage, crooning evening ballads.

While admiring from afar with a zoom lens is one way to enjoy nature, I thought it best to try something new. Something like wading through a rice paddy.

The one-hour rice-planting session began with a quick change into farmer-style attire. The hotel provided our group of four with traditional indigo-dyed shirts and trousers, rubber boots, straw hats and pha khao ma (multipurpose cloths) to wear. The process of rice farming was then explained in detail, from the importance of irrigation to the lengths of the rice planting and harvesting seasons. After 20 minutes of planting rice, we realised how difficult it was to perfect the method, especially beneath the sweltering sun. We moved on to harvesting, where Farmer Tien displayed his expertise in using a sickle to cut and bind rice stalks. Before edible grains can be acquired, rice stalks go through a series of laborious operations, including threshing to loosen the hull and tossing the grains in the air to remove chaff. The old Thai saying that you should eat every grain of rice rings true, and by experiencing the planting and harvesting process first-hand, I was able to reflect on the true value of something I’ve always taken for granted.

Farmer Tien harvesting rice.

We then paid a quick visit to the hotel’s famed residents: water buffaloes Tong, Tone, Mud and Teh. They may receive special treatment from hotel guests and don’t work in the fields, but they are nevertheless a prominent symbol of the resort, and represent how water buffaloes in Thailand that should be treasured and respected for their indispensable role within farming communities.

But it’s not all work and no play. Later, I attempted a sunset yoga class. Held at the yoga barn, which sits atop the lotus pond, nature was within my reach. Do ask for Dheeraj Patwal, the hotel’s health and wellness manager, who will customise the class to your liking. Suitable for those who can’t bring themselves to get up in time for sunrise yoga, this relaxing workout will leave you calm, restored and ready for evening cocktails at Ratree Bar. The newly designed menu by Javier de las Muelas is fabulous, and the bartenders know how to mix a mean drink.

On the second day of my stay, I explored the nature trail, which surprisingly remains somewhat unexplored. Head gardener Taro guided me through the resort armed with a box cutter and an impressive amount of botany knowledge. He walked, barefooted, with ease, describing the medical benefits, historical facts, scents and taste of various plants we passed. A scene from Man Vs Wild came to mind when Taro made a small cut on a traveller’s palm tree, causing water to spout out. “Take a sip”, he said. It was fresh water the plant has collected from the rain. It was pure, and it was bloody delicious.

The trail ended at the rustic rice barn. Just as the sun was beginning to set, I was introduced to P’Noi, a talented florist whose masteryÂ�can be spotted throughout the resort. A quick 10-minute tutorial with her, and we had arranged a floral pattern from the fresh petals she had earlier picked up from the hotel grounds and her own home. The contrast of various hues and shapes was incredibly beautiful, and I was more than chuffed to learn that our co-creation was to be the centrepiece for a couple’s romantic dinner that night. If you’re an adventurer — or are simply keen on learning something new — don’t miss this unique route.

To think people travel thousands of miles in search of the postcard-perfect view of verdant green valleys and enriching experiences in nature. How lucky are we, to have this luxury right here in Chiang Mai?

Top tips

• To wake up to the best view in the house, book a Rice Terrace Pavilion room.

• To capture a potentially award-winning photo, make sure you ready your camera and get yourself down to the lower pool area for the farmer’s parade at 4:45pm.

• To get on the good side of the resident water buffaloes, bring them their favourite snack: bananas. G

Four Seasons Chiang Mai is located on Mae Rim-Samoeng Old Road. Visit or call 053-298-181. 

Sunset yoga. Photo credit: Four Seasons Chiangmai


Cocktail at Ratree Bar. Photo credit: Four Seasons Chiangmai

Rice planting.

Tong, the albino buffalo.

Article source:�Cthe0Efive0Estar0Efarm/story01.htm

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

Vietnam mulls slot machines at airports

Posted on 26 November 2015 by admin

Workers leave the new terminal two wing at Noi Bai international airport in Hanoi on Dec 20, 2014. (Reuters photo)

Vietnam is considering the installation of slot machines inside its international airport terminals to make them more attractive for travellers.

The idea moved a step forward when Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Friday agreed in principle to equip the airports servicing international flights with the gaming machines as part of attempts to improve services, Tuoi Tre News reported.

He handed the task to the Finance Ministry to discuss the plan with other cabinet ministers to gain their support and turn the idea into law. Some airports around the world already have gaming machines for passengers to pass the time time when their flights are delayed or cancelled, the newspaper quoted the ministry as saying.

The state-owned Airports Corporation of Vietnam, which administers all airports in the country, will be responsible for the project once it gets the stamp of approval. Slot machines will be put in international airports only in designated areas for foreigners and Vietnamese passengers on international flights.

Vietnam has eight international airports and the two main gateways are Tan Son Nhat serving Ho Chi Minh City and Noi Ban for Hanoi.

Get full Bangkok Post printed newspaper experience on your digital devices with Bangkok Post e-newspaper. Try it out, it’s totally free for 7 days.

Article source:

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

America’s Best Resorts for the Christmas Season

Posted on 26 November 2015 by admin

November 25, 2015 at 10:00:00 AM EST | Post a Comment

Deck the halls with boughs of holly—or better yet, take a break this year and let somebody else do the work. The Christmas season brings out the best in hotel resorts around the country, as festive décor enhances warm, welcoming environments. This year, pack up the family and celebrate the holidays in the charm and comfort of one of the ten best Christmas-season resorts in the U.S. With gigantic Christmas trees, light shows, and even slides made of ice, a stay at one of these resorts guarantees a very merry Christmas indeed!

By Zachary Laks

Member Comments (1)

Sign in to leave a comment

WeisserTee on November 8, 2015 at 11:34:02 AM EST

Nothing against Hershey, but the photo is a bit misleading. The chances of Hershey having a white Christmas are pretty slim.

Article source:

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

10 U.S. Towns with Incredible Christmas Celebrations

Posted on 26 November 2015 by admin

November 25, 2015 at 12:00:00 PM EST | Post a Comment

Like Christmas cards sprung to life, some of America’s towns go all out for the holidays. From coast to coast, these communities go to great lengths to make the season bright by decking out their streets with twinkling lights by the thousands—or even millions. In these towns, window decorations, holiday markets, and towering Christmas trees all make for a very festive December. Here are the ten U.S. towns with incredilbe Christmas celebrations. —Zachary Laks

Member Comments (0)

Sign in to leave a comment

Article source:

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

10 Awe-Inspiring Christmas Trees Across America

Posted on 26 November 2015 by admin

November 25, 2015 at 1:45:00 PM EST | Post a Comment

There’s no better place to celebrate Christmas than by the side of a festively trimmed and glowing evergreen. The tradition of decorating and transforming trees into holiday works of art dates back to sixteenth-century Germany. Since then, advances in design and technology have made way for some remarkable achievements in Christmas tree décor. With trees that tower well over 100 feet, and some that are adorned with miles of lights, take note of the ten most awe-inspiring Christmas trees across the country this year. —Zachary Laks

Member Comments (0)

Sign in to leave a comment

Article source:

Comments (0)

Tags: ,

In meritorious harmony

Posted on 26 November 2015 by admin

A Saffron robe being brought to the temple.

After the end of Buddhist Lent, the people of Mae Chaem, a peaceful district in Chiang Mai province, harmoniously lend their hands to organise Chula Krathin, a religious ceremony.

Before the onset of winter, rice paddies in the valley are fertile and farmers hurry to harvest. No matter how busy they are, they do not ignore one of the most important ceremonies of the year, Chula Krathin.

Krathin is a Buddhist ritual connected to “Ok Phansa” or the end of Buddhist Lent, in October. Buddhists join a merit-making ceremony and gather at the temple to offer robes and everyday items, such as utensils, toiletries, writing materials and food, to the monks. The offering of new, saffron robes to the monks is an important and meritorious thing to do.

Chula Krathin means “Tiny Krathin” but it is a big event with an extraordinary process. Buddhists will make the saffron robes, from picking raw cotton to weaving and dyeing the cloth. Each process is done by hand and the saffron robes must be completed within a day.

Villagers walk through rice paddies.

As Chula Kratin is labour-intensive, requiring yarn makers, weavers, dyers, a chef and staff for each process, temples do not host it. But Wat Ban Thap in Mae Chaem is a village full of cotton textile weavers. A number of professional weavers in the village enliven the ceremony.

Before the day, men prepare the site and construct bamboo shades and stages. Looms are gradually relocated to the temple grounds. Ladies decorate the site with sun dried flowers and prepare for catering on the big day.

On the appointed day, the ceremony starts at dusk. After the religious rituals, virgins roam the cotton farms and collect raw cotton. Then the process of making saffron robes runs throughout the night.

People from other villages show up to lend a hand at every stage. The event becomes a party of religious contribution, where lady weavers happily work side by side with their friends. In the festive atmosphere, girls eagerly learn to weave, boys play with fireworks and fly Lanna lanterns, while men enjoy chatting after the long day.

“Chula Krathin is a great merit-making ceremony. If you lend a hand to organise the event, you will earn much more merit than other ways,” says Kampor Kulanan, a lady from a nearby village. “Unlike the men, ladies cannot enter the monkhood. But we can make robes, and this is also a great way to make merit.”

The saffron robes are completed by late night and dyed just a couple of hours before dawn. All night shift contributors go back home for short naps.

They gather again in the late morning, in their best dresses. Mae Chaem is famed for its tube skirts, or pha sin teek jok, of which lower parts is adorned with delicate patterns. All ladies proudly show up in their best pha sin teek jok and white shirts. Their hair is beautified with Mae Chaem’s traditional hair pins and flowers.

With the saffron robes they have just completed, participants happily dance around the village and offer the robes to the monks. 

It may not be as big as Krathin held in the city, but Chula Krathin is a small and beautiful ceremony that shows the great harmony of Mae Chaem Buddhists.

Travel info

Krathin is normally held late September or October. Besides Mae Chaem, Chula Krathin can be found in some Northern and Northeastern provinces.

Mae Chaem is roughly 120km from Chiang Mai. Scheduled buses (songthaews) leave Chomthong for Mae Chaem five times a day, from 9.30am-5.30pm. The fare is 70 baht per person. Call Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Chiang Mai Office on 053-248-604.

Weavers working to make saffron robes.

Dancers lead the parade to the temple.

Mae Chaem’s famous pha sin teen jok skirts.

Cottons is ready for the Chula Krathin ceremony. The locals plant cotton from the beginning of rainy season in August and get raw cotton by October.

Article source:

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here