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Thailand Young Monks Ceremony 02
Chiang Mai
By vincenzo floramo
03 Apr 2016

Pau Son Kula, 9, has his head shaved by a monk that symbolizes the removal of all vanity. Every ethnic Shan child between 9 and 14 years old will participate in the traditional initiation ceremony during the Poy Sang Long festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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Thailand Drought 02
Chiang Mai
By [email protected]
26 Mar 2016

A line of water markers lead down to the water'€™s edge at the Mae Kuang dam in Thailand'€™s Chiang Mai province. The distant tree line provides an indication of past dam levels while significant rainfall is believed to be still months away.

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Thailand Drought 03
Chiang Mai
By [email protected]
26 Mar 2016

The view down river from the gates of the Mae Kuang dam in Chiang Mai province. The current water levels at the dam sit below the gates meaning water release is not possible.

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Thailand Drought 06
Chiang Mai
By [email protected]
26 Mar 2016

In the city of Chiang Mai, there were little signs of drought. In the lead up last month's popular Songkran (a popular holiday marking the Thai new year by throwing water) some local nightclubs threw 'pre-Songkran' festivities in order to promote the upcoming water festival and attract patrons.
Water guns, balloons and hoses were all used to soak club-goers while farmers and villagers outside the city were being told to ration their water due to extremely low levels in the surrounding dams.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Chinese opera in Thailand is a dying art. Opera companies performed for years in theaters, but the tradition is now under threat because of changing cultural habits and demographics. Nowadays these companies travel from village to village, bringing the tradition as a way to honor ancestors rather than to entertain the masses. Local Chinese temples raise the money to pay expenses.

Chinese opera became popular when Chinese migrated to Thailand in large numbers two hundred years ago. About 14 percent of Thailand’s population is ethnic Chinese. As older ethnic Chinese pass away, younger generations who have assimilated into Thai culture do not really continue the tradition. Further, just a small number of Thais of Chinese descent understand the dialect used by these opera singers.

Text: Ana Salvá

Fotos: Walter Astrada

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 01
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

One of the star performers applies makeup before going on stage. He is one of the few who continue to sing in Chinese dialect. Some of the company are ethnic Chinese, but others are rural Thais who were sold into the troupe when they were children. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 02
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

An opera company member applies makeup before the performance. The child is the son of a couple of the performers who accompanies his parents in their nomadic life. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 03
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Chinese opera companies travel from one village to another in Thailand performing in local fairs and festivals. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 04
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

A portrait of one of the performers. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 05
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Chinese opera company members ready for a performance. The actors and singers carry on the tradition as a way to honour ancestors rather than to entertain the masses

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 06
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

An audience member enjoys the performance of a Chinese opera near Ayuttaya, north of Bangkok. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 07
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Two children watch the performance of a Chinese opera near Ayuttaya, north of Bangkok. As time goes by Chinese opera performers see fewer new faces in the audience. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 08
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

A member of the opera company applies makeup near the stage. Some of performers are sold into the troupe as children and raised in the company with little education. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Thailand Drought 05
Chiang Mai
By [email protected]
23 Mar 2016

A farmer feeds his water buffalo near a small waterhole in the Ping River near Chom Thong, Thailand. The river is dry in some places as the region struggles through a serious drought. Many districts in the Chiang Mai region have been declared drought-affected and significant rainfall is not expected for months.

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Thailand Drought 01
Chiang Mai
By [email protected]
23 Mar 2016

A young fisherman tries his luck in some of the small waterholes remaining in the Ping River near Chong Thom, Thailand. The river is dry in some places as the region struggles through a serious drought. Many districts in the Chiang Mai region have been declared drought-affected and significant rainfall is not expected for months.

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Thailand Drought 04
Chiang Mai
By [email protected]
22 Mar 2016

Ngam, a fisherman, lands his boat with his catch for the day after passing through choked waterways in Ping River near Chom Thong, in Chiang Mai province. Low water levels mean that many of the larger bodies of water are often difficult to navigate through due to crowding from vegetation. Open areas like this one are becoming more sparse as the dry season continues and the temperature rises.

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thailand lanterns 03
Chiang Mai
By Gloria Kurnik
31 Dec 2015

Wat Phan Tao Temple in Chiang Mai. At the stroke of midnight people release the floating lanterns into the air, and with them let go of their burdens and worries.

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thailand lanterns 02
Chiang Mai
By Gloria Kurnik
31 Dec 2015

Wat Phan Tao Temple in Chiang Mai. Buddhist monks release floating lanterns to welcome the New Year 2559 of the Buddhist calendar (2016).

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thailand lanterns 04
Chiang Mai
By Gloria Kurnik
31 Dec 2015

Wat Phan Tao Temple in Chiang Mai. Buddhist monk listens to the New Year's Eve sermon.

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thailand lanterns 05
Chiang Mai
By Gloria Kurnik
31 Dec 2015

Wat Phan Tao Temple in Chiang Mai. Monk listens to the New Year's Eve sermon.

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thailand lanterns 06
Chiang Mai
By Gloria Kurnik
31 Dec 2015

Wat Phan Tao Temple in Chiang Mai. Buddhist monks listen to the New Year's Eve sermon in English.

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thailand lanterns 07
Chiang Mai
By Gloria Kurnik
31 Dec 2015

Wat Phan Tao Temple in Chiang Mai. At the stroke of midnight young monks release the floating lanterns into the air, the wishes and blessings are written on the paper.

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thailand lanterns 09
Chiang Mai
By Gloria Kurnik
31 Dec 2015

Wat Phan Tao Temple in Chiang Mai. New Year's Eve. At the stroke of midnight a tourist blows the candle that she lit the floating lantern with.

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thailand lanterns 01
Chiang Mai
By Gloria Kurnik
30 Dec 2015

Wat Phan Tao Temple in Chiang Mai. Buddhist monks release floating lanterns to welcome the New Year 2559 of the Buddhist calendar (2016).

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thailand lanterns 08
Chiang Mai
By Gloria Kurnik
30 Dec 2015

Wat Phan Tao temple in Chiang Mai. Buddhists Monks meditate during the New Year's Eve sermon.

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Star Wars Premiere in Bangkok
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
18 Dec 2015

The Bangkok premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' was held at the Siam Paragon shopping mall in the Thai capital.

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A Transsexual Couple Fights for Right...
Bangkok
By Ana Salvá
17 Dec 2015

Sam and Yollie love each other as much as any other ordinary couple. What makes them different from many others is that Yollie was born in the body of a man, while Sam the body of a woman, and both are transgender. Two years after beginning their relationship, they are fighting to have their gender identities recognized, marry and consider the option of adopting a child. "We think of our future", explains Yollie.

Thailand is a country that holds every year a Miss Universe pageant for transsexuals, and where sex changes are advertised in the newspapers, but the rights of the transgender community are far from being equal to those of other men and women. For starters they are not even legally recognized.

Sam and Yollie have undergone each a complete change operation sex, but continue to maintain their gender of birth in official documents and cannot marry. Such unions between a transsexual and a man or a woman are considered same-sex marriages and have no legal validity.

"Legally we cannot get married the way we are. Sam would be my wife and I would be her husband. If we adopt a son, Sam will be the mother and I will be the father. Do you think I want to marry Sam as a husband or that he wants to marry me as a wife? Do you think I want to be the father of my son?”, asks Yollie, who is the president of the TransFemale Association of Thailand. Next year the association will be renamed as Transgender Association to give transmale people like Sam the chance to join.
*Full Article Available Upon Request

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Thai-U.S Strategic Dialogue in Bangkok
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Senior delegations representing Thailand and the United States met on December 17, 2015 in Bangkok. Permanent Secretary Apichart Chinwanno led the Thailand delegation, and Assistant Secretary of State for EastAsian Daniel Russel led the US delegation.

As long-time treaty allies, the United States and Thailand reaffirmed their shared commitment to promoting peace, security, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Recognizing Thailand’s regional leadership role and the United States’ vital contributions to peace and stability, the two sides engaged in a comprehensive discussion of issues within Southeast Asia and across the broader Asia-Pacific region.

The United States reaffirmed its support for ASEAN centrality in the Asia-Pacific regional architecture.  The two sides discussed ways to enhance their cooperation in regional frameworks, including the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), the East Asia Summit (EAS), and the ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership, with a view to tackling common challenges as well as contributing to greater stability and prosperity of the region.  Both sides recognized Thailand’s active engagement in the LMI and look forward to enhancing cooperation under the framework in the areas of education, energy, public health, science and technology, innovation, and women’s empowerment.  The two delegations underscored the importance of coordinating assistance in the region and of supporting Lao People’s Democratic Republic 2016 ASEAN Chairmanship.  The U.S. delegation noted that President Barack Obama looks forward to hosting leaders from all ten ASEAN nations, including Thailand, at the ASEAN-U.S. Special Summit early next year.

The two sides reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability, ensuring maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation, including in and over-flight above the South China Sea.  The delegations noted the need to avoid the militarization of the disputed areas. The two sides also reaffirmed their support for on-going efforts by ASEAN and China to fully and effectively implement the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety, and to work toward the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct (COC).

On bilateral issues, both sides affirmed their enduring treaty alliance and the strategic importance of their relations.  The two delegations discussed ways to further strengthen and expand areas of cooperation, including public health workforce development, medical research, creative economy, prevention and suppression of trafficking in persons and forced labor, law enforcement cooperation, and training through the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), as well as trade and investment.

The two sides reaffirmed the value of Thailand-U.S. defense cooperation and look forward to continuing to implement the 2012 Joint Vision Statement by strengthening cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, global peacekeeping, and military medical research, among other defense engagements.  The United States welcomed Thailand’s pledge at President Obama’s September 2015 Peacekeeping Summit to contribute civil development, engineering, and medical teams to future United Nations peacekeeping missions, and looks forward to continuing to work with Thailand as feasible on capacity building and training of peacekeepers from regional countries through Thailand’s Peacekeeping Operation Centre.  The two sides also look forward to resuming their Defense Strategic Talks at the earliest opportunity.

Furthermore, the two sides also identified practical ways to expand their comprehensive partnership to benefit their respective countries, the region, and beyond.  In particular, Thailand and the United States agreed to hold the first Joint Commission Meeting under their bilateral Science and Technology Agreement in Thailand in the first half of 2016.  The two countries look forward to expanding trade and investment ties and agreed to hold the next round of talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) as soon as possible in 2016.  The United States recognized Thailand’s leadership in the area of public health.  Both sides are committed to working together to detect, prevent, and respond to infectious disease threats and address public health challenges through both bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. The two delegations noted that a five-year plan is being developed to achieve the targets of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).  They also agreed to explore the possibility of establishing a bilateral public health coordination mechanism.

The two governments recognized the importance of education and people-to-people connectivity.  In line with President Obama’s priorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, the two sides discussed future bilateral cooperation and the co-organization of a regional STEM workshop in 2016.  The two governments pledged their recommitment to the Thailand-U.S. Creative Partnership, launched at the 2010 U.S.-Thailand Strategic Dialogue, which identifies new opportunities for collaborative ingenuity between the two countries.

Recognizing Thailand’s efforts and contributions in addressing global challenges, the two sides also discussed enhanced cooperation on climate change; disease prevention and control; irregular migration and human trafficking; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; peacekeeping; and counterterrorism. The two sides welcomed the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.

The delegations discussed current political developments in Thailand and the country’s commitment to  implementing comprehensive reforms and a return to sustainable democracy.  Both sides also affirmed the importance of promoting universal human rights and humanitarian cooperation.

Looking forward, the two sides welcomed continued robust, candid exchanges on these and other issues and a continued exchange of visits in the future.  The two sides agreed to hold the Sixth U.S.-Thailand Strategic Dialogue in the United States in 2016.

 

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Transgenders in Thailand 03
Bangkok
By Ana Salvá
17 Dec 2015

Yollie and Sam on holiday in the Maldives

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Thai-US Summit 01
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Thai-US Summit 02
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcoming to Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia.

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Thai-US Summit 03
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia.

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Thai-US Summit 04
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian.

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Thai-US Summit 05
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia.

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Thai-US Summit 06
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

U.S. delegation at the 5th Thai-US strategic dialogue.

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Thai-US Summit 07
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Mr. Daniel R. Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs gives a speech to the press media.

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Thai-US Summit 08
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives a speech to the press media.

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Thai-US Summit 09
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand: Mr. Apichart Chinwanno, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs speaking to the press media.

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Star Wars Premiere 01
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

Catering and cocktail event at the The Bangkok premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at the Siam Paragon shopping mall in the Thai capital.

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Star Wars Premiere 02
Bangkok
By GonzaloAbad
17 Dec 2015

A Thai artist draws a character from the movie at the The Bangkok premiere of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at the Siam Paragon shopping mall in the Thai capital.