Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage sent off the old year with the 7th Colors of Doi Tung festival, highlighting the crisp climate of the mountain region and the warm hill tribe hospitality of the Doi Tung communities. The event, which was held every weekend and public holiday from 4 December 2020 to 31 January 2021, from 8am to 6pm, at Doi Tung Development Project, Chiang Rai Province, was aimed at encouraging local communities to develop their potential and learn the process of community enterprise that would help them become self-sufficient while preserving the indigenous culture of the six ethnic minorities in the area, namely Akha, Lahu, Shan, Tai Lue, Tai Lua and Yunnanese Chinese or Haw. The opening ceremony was held amidst a cordial atmosphere with safety measures also implemented. Guests of honour included Phasadate Hongladarom, Deputy Governor of Chiang Rai; Chantira Jimreivat Vivatrat. President of SUPPORT Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand and Advisor to Thai Beverage Public Company Limited; Phongphan Jeanwiriyapan, Director of Pracharath Rak Samakkee (Thailand) Co Ltd, and Advisor to Thai Beverage Public Company Limited; Dr Wanchai Laukanjanarat, Deputy Director of Bangkok Hospital Chiangrai; Tieamjan Pancharoen, Deputy Director of Mae Fah Luang Chiang Rai International Airport; Karuna Dechatiwong, Director of TAT office Chiang Rai; and Col Somjetta Pakdeebundit, Deputy Commander 37th Military District.
ML Dispanadda Diskul, CEO of Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage, remarked, “As a result of the unusual circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic that has adversely affected businesses particularly the tourism industry, Mae Fah Luang Foundation feels an even greater urgency to hold the See San Doi Tung Fair as a way of bringing happiness and moral support to the Thai people, as well as stimulating the economy, bringing it back to life. It will also help to increase income earning opportunities in the travel industry for Doi Tung communities, especially if the situation improves and domestic travel is safe once again, and Thai people can support one another. That’s the reason behind the 7th Colors of Doi Tung Festival.
“The 7th See San Doi Tung Fair is held under the theme “Home Full of Love”, as Thailand is like our home, while Doi Tung is the home of the local people. We would like visitors to enjoy their love and hospitality as they present quality products and memorable experiences. Not only is there a sense of love for the venue, the visitors and the communities, Mae Fah Luang Foundation also extends its love to the environment by designing activities and products under the concept of circular economy, as well as carbon offsetting practices in order that the fair can truly be a Carbon Neutral Event, with Zero Waste to Landfill. The event this year has been sponsored by Thai Beverage Public Company Limited, Siam Commercial Bank Public Company Limited, SCG Foundation, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS) and Bangchak Corporation.”
The fair was divided into different zones: Check-in Photo Zone with landscaped backdrops of Mae Fah Luang Garden filled with hundreds of flower varieties such as geraniums, Lady’s Slipper orchids, Phalaenopsis orchids propagated by Doi Tung Development Project and, most popular of all, the Clover Leaf of Love gate, symbolizing the warm welcome and good luck wishes for all visitors. A popular photo op was “To”, the mascot of Shan legends. Visitors also enjoyed chilling to music and performances by ethnic communities around the fair, which created a feeling of happiness and relaxation, as if they were back in the warmth of their own home.
Foodies enjoyed the Food Zone, with various hill tribe family menus such as Lua black chicken soup, Yam Khao Fuen or spicy chickpea tofu salad – a Shan specialty. There were special sweets perfect for the winter months such as grilled Khao Puk rice cakes sprinkled with bamboo sugar, or contemporary hill tribe menus from Krua Tamnak Restaurant created just for the See San Doi Tung fair such as Spaghetti with Chinese chive roots, Fried chicken with ma-khwaen herbs, Spicy watercress salad with shredded chicken, Yunnan style fresh egg noodles with black chicken stock, Khao Sod Chuen or rice mixed with various grains from the farms of Doi Tung. The highlighted dessert was Macadamia soufflé and Phu Lae pineapple crumble.
A favorite for shopaholics was the Handicrafts Zone with assorted traditional and contemporary fashion products handmade by the hill tribes, handicrafts with unique, environmentally-friendly designs at the DoiTung Lifestyle Shop. There were also interesting workshops such as ceramic sculpting conducted by Doi Tung’s artisans, and participants could take home their handiwork as souvenirs; or making postcards from leaves and dried flowers from the Mae Fah Luang Garden for a personalized gift.
For the more energetic, there was the Activity Zone. The fresh air on Doi Tung was perfect for the DoiTung Tree Top Walk hanging 30m above the ground, the Formula Doi race track, or walking on stilts.
Visitors also took advantage of the cold fresh air to enjoy the mists and rare flowers at the Mae Fah Luang Arboretum on Doi Chang Moop at the highest point of Doi Tung on the Nang Non mountain range. Here, visitors enjoyed a panoramic view of the mountain range that borders Thailand and Myanmar. This is also the home of red Rhododendron arboreum and other rhododendron varieties. Visitors enjoyed the services of the young Doi Tung guides, and checked-in at the scenic location of Doi Taek Faidee Café, with coffee made by young baristas, in a setting surrounded by flowers. Hill tribe costumes were available for rent to create the total authentic look. There were free shuttles every hour from the fair to Doi Chang Moop, only during the fair period.
The organizers took extra preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19 in addition to the regular precautionary measures. All service areas and equipment, as well as all items regularly touched were disinfected every three hours, all tourist areas were sprayed with disinfectant every evening, with UV sterilization in enclosed areas every evening, and strict social distancing rules enforced.