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Remembering King Bhumibol, the musician

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Remembering King Bhumibol, the musician | The Thaiger
King Bhumibol playing saxophone with his son, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
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In remembrance of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Thaiger is proud to share one of His Majesty’s many talents, his musical prowess.

A renown Jazz musician, he started at age ten with the clarinet and, due to his talent, learned to play the saxophone and trumpet as well.

Late in his life he jammed alongside some of the jazz greats from the 50’s and 60s – Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Stan Getz and Jack Teagarden.

King Bhumibol was also praised for his original compositions with included various genres, as well as traditional Thai music. He wrote, arranged and performed on many of his tracks.

Today, in memory of King Bhumibol’s numerous musical talents, we share with you his first original recording from 1946 at the age of 18.

‘Candlelight Blues’ is a 24-bar blues song composed by King Bhumibol with lyrics by Assoc. Prof Sodsai Pantoomkomol.

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Tourism

Tracking down “The Beach” – the inspiration for the 2000 Hollywood movie

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Tracking down “The Beach” – the inspiration for the 2000 Hollywood movie | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: The Sanctuary Thailand

Tourists flocked to Maya Bay, you know ‘The Beach’ featured in the 2000 movie starring Leonardo de Caprio and directed by Danny Boyle. Since 2000, the tourist magnet on Koh Phi Phi Ley became a Mecca for the back-packer crowd followed by a mass tourist flock, bringing some 5,000+ tourists to the small bay every day at its peak.

In June 2018 Thai marine officials and the management of the national park controlling the Phi Phi islands banned visits to Maya Bay. The pilgrimage to The Beach was over and the environmentally abused bay got a chance to recover.

But Maya Bay, used in the film, wasn’t even the inspiration for the original novel that spawned the film. The ‘actual’ beach was, probably, a secluded little stretch of sand on Koh Pha Ngan, on the other side of the Malay Peninsula from Koh Phi Phi Ley, in the Gulf of Thailand near Koh Samui.

Michael Doyle started visiting Koh Pha Ngan in the mid 1980s, chilling in rustic beach bungalows as a break from being a psychiatric nurse in Australia.

Speaking to CNN, he said that he moved to Haad Rin at the southern tip of the island, at the time nurturing an international hippie scene fusing raves with tai chi, yoga with mind-opening drugs. By the end of the decade Haad Rin had started attracting a regular, well monthly, visit to the Full Moon Party. The spiritual awakening of the Full Moon Party eventual became mind-expanding for a host of other reasons and then became commercialised into one of the world’s best-know beach raves.

It was time for Michael to find another spot on the island.

Further up the coast he was invited to “The Sanctuary”. It could only be reached by boat or a hike through the rocky headlands of the Koh Pha Ngan coastline.

“As we came over the first hill, the sight of a crystal-white beach below, without anyone on it, was pure magic.”

But they hadn’t even reached The Beach at that stage. They had to hike further.

“We glimpsed the second bay just before sunset. Walking down from there, I felt as if I were passing through some kind of invisible membrane and I realised, well, my life has changed.'”

The Sanctuary was just a dormitory, a few bungalows and an open-air cafe. Michael stayed on for 3 months along with a handful others who helped build more beach bungalows.

Two other ‘locals’, Gill Beddows and Steve Sanders, decided to establish The Sanctuary after becoming disillusioned with the commercialisation at Haad Rin.

Their tropical beach paradise is actually Haad Thian (Mangrove Beach). The bay was under the control of a single Thai family, making it easier to negotiate a lease of the land to build The Sanctuary. They started building it in 1990.

“From the very beginning, we were focused on wellness and spirituality, offering an alternative to the party scenes on other beaches. We wanted it to be a centre for like-minded people to practice yoga and detox.”

Mostly mainstream now, Steve recalled that their practices were seen as ‘witch craft’ 30 years ago.

When the book ‘The Beach’, by Alex Garland, came out in 1996, Gill and Steve knew it was based around their hidden Koh Pha Ngan commune. The novel traces the fate of a small, loose-knit international commune who establish their own utopian community on a remote Thai beach… sort of ‘Lord of the Flies’ for Gen X. ‘The Beach’ would be reprinted 25 times in less than a year. in 2000 the novel was transformed into a $40 million film.

But director Danny Boyle, probably unaware of The Sanctuary, picked Maya Bay as the picturesque ‘Beach’ for the film.

In the book, Richard, a British traveller, encounters a deranged Scottish backpacker at a guesthouse on Bangkok’s Khao San Road (was actually filmed in Phuket at the On On Hotel). He tapes a hand-drawn map to Richard’s hotel door before killing himself.

Richard and a French couple trace the map to a hidden lagoon on a beautiful island. They find a utopian colony of hedonistic idealists struggling to keep their idyll a secret. The shots of the ‘beautiful hidden lagoon’ were filmed at Maya Bay, little known at the time, on Koh Phi Phi Ley. It became a popular day trip out of Phuket or Krabi until it was closed to tourists for rehabilitation in 2018.

In the novel, the building of the hidden beach retreat is supervised by Sal, an American woman with a carpenter boyfriend.

“Of course, this is more than a beach resort. But at the same time, it is just a beach resort. We come here to relax by a beautiful beach, but it isn’t a beach resort because we’re trying to get away from beach resorts. Or we’re trying to make a place that won’t turn into a beach resort.”

Richard, the fictional character played by de Caprio in the film, says…

“I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for. Because it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something. And if you find that moment, it lasts forever.”

When asked if The Sanctuary was the inspiration for ‘The Beach’ Michael Doyle said he had”fuzzy memories of a guy hanging out in a hammock and just watching the flow of life for a couple of weeks in the mid-’90s”.

“And I can put names to a few of the characters in the story, so there’s that. It didn’t click so much with the book as with the film.”

But Gill Beddows said the comparisons were quite obvious.

“As soon as the book came out, I knew. There were just too many coincidences.”

And the same problems that beset the community in the film were also happening at The Sanctuary.

“We were living in the hippie belief that everyone could live together, and we didn’t need to let the outside world in and let money spoil everything. Gradually reality came in, knowing this wasn’t sustainable without income.”

Michael Doyle started to manage The Sanctuary in 1998 so that Gill and Steve could look after their other business interests. It already had an excellent reputation as a wellness retreat.

Tracking downTracking down

By 2013, The Sanctuary was booked out most of the time and the staff were turning away hundreds of requests for stays over the Christmas and New Year holidays. It’s success continued as Koh Pha Ngan grew in popularity as tourists discovered there was more to the little Gulf island beyond the Full Moon Party.

Once Thailand’s borders were closed in March this year, The Sanctuary was wrapping up another successful high season. Some gusts promptly left whilst they could. Future bookings were cancelled but others stayed on.

Michael says they had to make a lot of decisions quickly, with the threat of borders closing and people still in-house. They got all the remaining guests and staff in to the main restaurant for a chat.

“We let them know that during the island lockdown, they might not even be allowed on the beach, and that food supplies might get thin. In the end, everyone left except for a couple to whom we gave favourable rates for as long as they stuck it out.”

Although many employees headed back to their homes from mid-March the resort continued to operate. The Sanctuary successfully maintained its record of never closing down since its original opening, even in the midst of Thailand’s tourist drought.

The Sanctuary now has its own TV channel, streaming both live and taped events and a web page, Sanctuary Wellness Live.

As for the actual ‘Beach’, the secluded resort maintains aa steady stream of Thais and expatriates living in Thailand. There are still yoga classes, spa services, meditation, healthy dining and detox programs, plus the beautiful bay, and The Beach.

You can find out more about The Sanctuary Thailand HERE.

The last words are from the protagonist Richard from the novel The Beach…

“This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”

Tracking downTracking down

The story originally reported on CNN.

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Bangkok

The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue

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The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Former Thai Sports and Tourism Minister with Vernon Unsworth MBE

The Isan Project has collaborated with the TAT on new marketing campaign featuring music commemorating the Tham Luang cave rescue.

The story of how 13 young men, members of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, were saved in the caves of Chiang Rai continues to ignites interest in the miraculous internationally-followed rescue in July 2018 from the flooded Tham Luang cave

To honour the safe rescue music video company The Isan Projectrecently launched “Where the Eagles Fly”, video to pay tribute to the British hero of the dramatic saga, Vern Unsworth MBE.

The release of a movie and Netflix mini series shortly will also boost interest globally in Thailand. The series includes the first individual interviews with the boys and they coach.

The launch, in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and supported by the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit and Serenity Wines, was attended by several key persons involved in the rescue mission two years ago, including former Tourism & Sports Minister, Weerasak Kowsurat, who played a major role in flying in special cave divers from the UK as requested by Vernon Unsworth, a recognised cave explorer, who knows virtually every inch of the Tham Luang cave.

“It is absolutely true that without Vernon’s persistence in obtaining the help from the UK cave diving experts to initially spearhead the rescue mission, the boys and their coach would not be alive today.”

“Needless to say, assistance from experienced and skilled cave divers from around the world, who later volunteered to join as well as our own Navy Seals, all contributed to the mission’s ultimate success.”

Vernon Unsworth MBE, his partner Woranan Ratrawiphakkun, and his caving buddy Kamon Kunngamkwamdee, all starred in the “Where the Eagles Fly” fantasy music video, which was set in deep jungle and caves in the mountain of Doi Nang Non in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

“I’m truly honoured to have this song written about me. It was very moving to relive parts of the rescue while making the music video, especially when I think back on how Kamon and I covered over 16 km. on the first day after we knew the boys were missing. We virtually lived in the cave for the first 4 days prior to the arrival of my cave diving colleagues from the UK”.

The story of how the football team were saved in the caves is a heart warming one. For many attending the event it was a privilege and an honour to meet 63 year old Vernon Unsworth in person. An event filled with stories of bravery, emotion and moving music.

Vernon, who has mapped the cave system for 8 years, was the first professional cave diver at the site and realising the enormous danger the boys were in, played a significant rôle in the rescue and earned him the UK’s high honour, an MBE medal.

As the rescue became a race against time ahead of impending monsoon rains, Vernon undertook reconnaissance dives upstream through flooded passages against strong currents.

Weerasak Kowsurat, the former Minister of Tourism and Sports, recalled how a message written on a piece of paper by Vernon and handed to his colleague for safe keeping with instructions that it was to be handed over in case Vernon, fearing the worst, didn’t make it out on an exploratory dive. It was very dangerous work and one Thai diver died during the course of the rescue.

Although Vernon was safe, the message was handed to the Minister who was at the cave site. The message was to contact the British Dive Caving Association and gave names of expert divers and telephone numbers. Within 24 hours the Tourism Minister had managed to get the UK divers on a hastily arranged flight to Thailand to assist in the rescue effort.

The team of UK divers, working under appalling conditions and with time running out, in poor visibility located the team marooned on a ledge above the water about 4 kilometres inside the cave complex.

Writer and executive producer of The Isan Project, Will Robinson says… “Although I had penned and produced “Heroes of Thailand” honouring all those involved in the Tham Luang cave rescue, I felt it was time to pay a special tribute directly to the mastermind of the extremely complex mission.”

“Vernon is such a humble man, I wanted to create a song not only to honour him, but also to establish Tham Luang and what is now known as the ‘Wild Boar Cave’, where the boys were found, as a new tourist attraction for those who love to explore caves.”

At the beginning of the video it reads…

“On June 23, 2018, 12 boys from the Wild Boar football team went exploring the Tham Luang cave with their coach in Chiang Rai. They never returned home that night, next day locals contacted cave explorer Vern Unsworth in nearby Mae Fah Luang. Over the course of the next two weeks Vern put his life on the line for the young football team with a daring rescue engineered by Vern and Elite British cave divers. This song was written in honour of Vern Unsworth M.B.E. and inspired by the above events.”

You can watch the video HERE.

Commenting on the Isan Project Tanes Petsuwan, TAT’s Deputy Governor of Marketing Communications said, “TAT appreciates Will’s love of Thailand, and we are delighted to be supporting this launch. We also believe that this song combined with the newly-published children’s book, “All Thirteen” and the soon-to-be released Hollywood movie, “Thirteen Lives”, will help to dramatically boost tourism in and around Chiang Rai even though we will need to rely mainly on domestic tourists until the end of the year while international travel is still restricted.”

“Where the Eagles Fly”, co-written by Will Robinson and Daniel Ryan, and performed by Daniel himself, is tipped to top the charts when the MGM blockbuster movie, “Thirteen Lives” and the Netflix mini-series about the epic story of the Tham Luang cave rescue are released. The song is now available from all digital music stores including iTunes, Spotify, Apple and Amazon.

The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue | News by The Thaiger

From left: Mr. Sobchai (Ford) Kraiyoonsen Singer/composer, Mr. Tanes Petsuwan TAT’s Deputy Governor of Marketing Communications, Senator Weerasak Kowsurat former Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr. Vern Unsworth British cave explorer, Mr. Will Robinson Writer and Executive Producer of The Isan Project, Mr. Nithee Seeprae TAT’s Executive Director of Advertising & PR Department, Ms. Woranan Ratrawiphakkun Vern’s partner, Mr. Sammy Carolus GM of the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit

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King Bhumibol Adulyadej – in remembrance of the “Father of Thailand”

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King Bhumibol Adulyadej – in remembrance of the “Father of Thailand” | The Thaiger

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was Thailand’s monarch for just over 70 years. At the time of his passing in October 2016, King Bhumibol was the world’s longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history. Amongst his many other gifts, he was was revered as a calming and compassionate influence, overseeing Thailand’s stormy political history in the second half of the 20th century.

Four years later his enduring legacy casts a wide shadow over the Kingdom of Thailand with his influence shaping, not only Thai culture in the second half of the 20th century, but also Thailand’s standing in the region with a deft avoidance of some of the more debilitating conflicts around South East Asia.

His Majesty King Bhumibol, Rama 9, the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty, was born on December 5, 1927 and passed away on October 13, 2016 at the Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun Hospital in Bangkok. He had been living in and out of the hospital in the years before his passing.

Bhumibol’s early days

It’s a surprise to some, but Bhumibol Adulyadej was born on December 5, 1927, in Massachusetts, USA, not in Thailand. As the second son born to his parents, and because his birth took place outside of Thailand, young Bhumibol was never expected to ascend Thailand’s throne. His reign came about through his older brother’s mysterious death.

His father, Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, was studying for a public health certificate at Harvard University. His mother, Princess Srinagarindra, was studying nursing at the same time.

When Bhumibol was a one year old the family returned to Thailand, where his father took up an internship in a hospital in Chiang Mai. Prince Mahidol died of kidney and liver failure in September 1929.

Thailand’s democratic revolution

In 1932, a coalition of military officers and civil servants staged a bloodless coup against King Rama VII. The Revolution of 1932 ended the Chakri dynasty’s absolute rule and created a Thai constitutional monarchy, with an elected parliament. Princess Srinagarindra took her two young sons and daughter to Switzerland a year later where the children were placed in Swiss schools for their early education.

In March 1935, King Rama VII abdicated leaving his 9 year old nephew, Bhumibol Adulyadej’s older brother Ananda Mahidol as Thailand’s new monarch. But the child-king and his siblings remained in Switzerland due to his young age and nascent political developments in Thailand. Two regents ruled the kingdom in his name. Ananda returned to Thailand in 1938 but his brother Bhumibol continued his schooling in Switzerland until 1945 .

King Bhumibol Adulyadej - in remembrance of the

PHOTO: King Mahidol Adulyadej and his younger brother Bhumibol Adulyadej

On June 9, 1946, the young King Mahidol was killed in his palace bedroom from a single gunshot wound to the head. Two royal pages and the king’s personal secretary were convicted of assassination and executed, although controversy still swirls around the incident. The young Bhumibol returned to the University of Lausanne in Switzerland to complete his degree and his uncle was appointed Regent, ruling in his place, back in Thailand.

Marriage to Queen Sirikit

The young King Bhumibol met the daughter of the Thai ambassador to France, a student named Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kiriyakara, during a visit to Paris. Adulyadej and Sirikit began a courtship some time in 1946.

In October 1948, Adulyadej crashed into a truck and was seriously injured, losing his right eye and suffering back injuries. Sirikit spent a lot of time nursing and entertaining the convalescing king. King Bhumibol’s mother encouraged Sirikit to transfer to a school in Lausanne so that she could continue her studies and spend more time with the young King.

Adulyadej and Sirikit were married in Bangkok on April 28, 1950. She was 17 and he was 22 years old. Bhumibol was officially crowned a week later to becmme King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Queen Mother Sirikit is still living in Bangkok and is frequently visited by members of the Royal Family.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej - in remembrance of the

King Bhumibol Adulyadej - in remembrance of the

PHOTO: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Queen Sirikit and his four children (a young Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn on the left)

Half a century of military dictatorships

In the early days of his reign, Thailand was ruled by a military dictator, Plaek Pibulsonggram, until 1957. Then the first of a series of coups, which would dog the Kingdom for the second half of the 20th century, removed him from office. The King declared martial law ending with a new military dictatorship formed under a trusted ally of King Bhumibol, Sarit Dhanarajata.

During the next phase of his rule the young King would revive many abandoned Chakri traditions, including the need for subjects and staff to kowtow – bowing and keeping their head below the monarch. He also started to make public appearances around the Kingdom – an activity which would become a hallmark of his reign, significantly reviving the prestige of the Thai monarchy and standing of the royal family.

Coups took place in 1963, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1985, and 1991 (and more in the 21st century). Although King Bhumibol worked hard to remain above politics, he refused to support the 1981 and 1985 coups, and was seen as a settling influence in the swirling political events, stepping in only when the situation needed to be diplomatically diffused.

Democratic governments

When a military coup leader was selected as PM in May 1992, huge protests broke out around Thailand. Known as ‘Black May’, the demonstrations turned into riots. Fearing a civil war, Kong Bhumibol called the coup and opposition leaders to a televised audience at the palace.

Adulyadej pressured the coup leader to resign. New elections were called and a civilian government was elected. This intervention was the beginning of civilian-led democracy that has continued, with a few military “interruptions”, to this day, most notably the intervention of the military in a coup in 2014 when the National Committee for Peace and Order seized power. A quasi-democratic government, mostly made up of leadership from the 2014 Army coup, was elected in 2019.

King Bhumibol’s image as an advocate for the Thai people, reluctantly intervening in the political fray to protect his subjects, became an enduring legacy.

Death

Since 2006, King Bhumibol suffered a number of health issues and was hospitalised frequently. He died at the Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok on October 16, 2016. Crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn became the 10th King of the Chakri Dynasty, and his official coronation was held between May 4 – 6, 2019 in a grand spectacle watched on by millions of Thais.

Although Bhumibol was never intended to be Thailand’s king, he is lovingly remembered as a successful and beloved Thai monarch, who helped calm successive political turbulence over the seven decades of his reign. Indeed, he is fondly referred to as the Father of Thailand, reigning for more than 70 years.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej - in remembrance of the

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