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Rattan - Sustainable and Sexy

Danlao Rattan

Located in a busy street on the way to Mitthaphab Bridge is Danlao Rattan, brain-child of Xaykhamme Phetmanivong; designer, entrepreneur and advocate for the environment.

Started in 1993 as means of augmenting his family income, it soon turned into a passion for manufacturing high quality rattan products that were also attractive and environmentally friendly. One type doesn’t fit all and so with about 30 species of rattan found in Laos, Xaykhamme is careful to match design and type of rattan when making a product. Equally important, the skills of Lao crafts people are showcased in order to give the workers a vested interest in producing quality.

Today, Danlao Rattan is an SME with 42 employees, and contracts out work to about 100 families in three villages in Khamkeud District of Bolikhamxay Province. In 2013, in recognition of Danlao Rattan’s commitment to eco-friendly manufacturing, World Wildlife Fund, Laos (WWF) started offering considerable assistance. The three villages where Danlao products are manufactured began receiving training in basketry and weaving techniques. Since sufficient raw material is always a problem, workshops on sustainable forest production and management were conducted. WWF has also helped Danlao in marketing its products abroad, especially by complying with the requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the international body that sets standards for responsible forest management. Danlao has set its standards even higher by tightening quality control. Harvesting, selection, categorization and treatment of cane, production and packing are all meticulously monitored.

Fact:

  • A climber plant belonging to the palm family.
  • Highly tensile and durable.
  • Used for the manufacture of furniture, utensils, agricultural implements and even food.
  • Laos has 30 species, though Danlao only uses the 9 most durable and categorizes them into big, medium and small.
  • Large species of rattan take 15 years and small 5 years, before they can be harvested.
  • Lao rattan was the first to receive FSC certification.

Showroom: Thadeua Rd, Ban Phoxay, Sisattanak Dist. Vientiane Capital, Laos
T: +856 (021) 314 332, +856 (020) 5551 1171
  www.danlaorattan.com

Molam International Band

- Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band -

Bangkok-based DJ Maft Sai and his partner DJ Chris Menist set in motion a wave of interest in molam music with their Isan Dancehall nights in Bangkok at which they played old vinyl records of molam and luk thung (Thai country music) music from the golden era of the 1970s. The nights were wildly successful, and when Maft Sai opened his Zudrangma Record Store, a busy trade in second-hand molam vinyl began with orders coming in from across the planet.

To further promote the music, Maft Sai set up the Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band (PBMIB) to take the music to overseas audiences. The band features two molam musicians, master phin (three-stringed lute) player Kammao Perdthanon and khaen (bamboo mouth organ) player Sawai Kaewsombat, and two musicians from the veteran Thai indie rock band Apartment Khun Pa - bass player Piyanart ‘Pump’ Jotikashira and drummer Phusana Treeburut. Menist, who is now based in the UK plays percussion and Maft Sai plays Thai temple cymbals when the band tours.



The band released its debut album, 21st Century Molam, in November 2014 to great acclaim, garnering a number of awards, including Album of the Week on BBC Radio 6 and a Best Album Award on Gilles Peterson’s radio show on the BBC. In Bangkok, the band was recently awarded Best Instrumental Album at the Khom Chat Leuk Awards. In April, the band was nominated for a Best Band Award from the Asia Pacific region for the UK-based Songlines’ magazine World Music Awards – only the second band to be nominated from the regafter Indonesia’s Sambasunda.

What distinguishes PBMIB from local traditional and local molam bands is the band’s willingness to introduce new sounds into the mix. Nick Manasseh, who previously worked with the legendary Studio One producer Lee Perry, produced the debut album, adding a spacy. dub feel to some of the tracks. The band blends its roots of molam music with bits of rock and reggae that never overwhelm the music but rather take it on and stretch the boundaries of what is possible.

A new album was recorded last autumn and will be released later this year. ”It will,” says bass player Pump, “have more musical flavours, more of a soundscape this time.” Several guests have added to the expanded sound.

In the meantime, the band is busy preparing for a European summer tour, for the third year in a row. This time, the band has been invited to perform at the famous Glastonbury Festival in June in the UK and at the Field Day Festival in Victoria Park, London. Young European audiences have responded very positively to this ancient funky music and the band has played to packed crowds across the continent. The Paradise Bangkok Molam International band is flying the flag for molam. As phin player Kammao says: “The lam sound is a happy vibe and people like that.”

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Words & Photo By John Clewely

 

 

The Peril of Plastic

By Viengdalat Somphet

Plastic is everywhere; in water bottles, containers, in everything and especially in those ubiquitous grocery bags. And it is killing us. What was initially a boon to modern man, has now become, literally, a hangman’s noose as it chokes planet Earth.

Plastic is now a part of our daily existence. Look around and you will see it everywhere. It’s a bet that within a metre of you there will be at least half a dozen things made from plastic. Go into a shop and buy even a pencil, and the salesgirl will put it into a plastic bag. A friend of mine joked, “Buy one plastic bag and they’ll put it into another plastic bag.”

But what is incredibly shocking is that despite all the campaigns for a clean environment, we continue to dispose of our plastic waste, senselessly and irresponsibly. Visit That Luang or the Mekong after festivals, or just about every weekend, and you will see the mountains of plastic bags and bottles thoughtlessly tossed away, making our surroundings filthy in theshort-term and toxic in the longer term. Discarding a used plastic bag or water bottle where one is standing has become a reflex action; almost like breathing.

But that is just Act I in our march towards self-destruction. Estimated to take about 300 years to biodegrade, the plastic then ends up in our sewers, fields, rivers and oceans, snuffing out animal and marine life. We’ve all seen those terrible pictures of cattle and fish choked from ingesting plastic bags. Our actions of carelessly discarding bags or bottles, endanger animal or plant life in the immediate future and our own lives later as it poisons our food chain.

Plastic garbage, when collected by our not-so-efficient municipal services, then ends up in landfills where sometimes thermal decomposition or burning is attempted. But that contributes to an increase in air pollution with its deadly concomitants of respiratory diseases and cancers.

 

So what can we do to save ourselves from this peril that plastic has become? 

 

We need a three-pronged approach; education, legislation and enforcement. A number of organisations have started trying to create awareness in society. Green Vientiane, for example, an endeavour of Social Environment Research Consultants Asia, uses innovative ideas to bring about behaviour changes at the local level. Laws need to be enacted that curtail the production and usage of plastic. For example, some countries ban plastic bags less than a certain thickness and many shops charge for plastic bags. If shops and street vendors are held liable, plastic wastage will drop dramatically. So, start today with just a small change in your personal behaviour. It would be an irony if plastic, which started as such a boon, should become the death of us.



Green Vientiane
is marketing Gracz’s eco-friendly containers and packaging. Made from natural plant fibres these products naturally biodegrade in 6 weeks! Safe for you and better for the environment. More info on: www.gracz.co.th


Small Steps with Big Impacts: There are many ways that we can personally help reduce plastic in our daily life. Take small steps like these the example:

  • Avoid plastic and bring your own reusable bag when go out shopping.
  • Carry a glass or other non-plastic bottle for your daily hydration.
  • Reduce the hazard to animals and marine life by tying plastic bags, especially the ultra-thin ones, into a series of knots before disposing of them.


San Francisco, becomes the first city to ban plastic bottles, encouraging people to use more eco-friendly products. Fines up to $1000 will be imposed on violators. www.globalflare.com

 


New Delhi has banned plastic bag less than 50 microns thick (thin bags). The reasoning is that thicker plastic bags are easier to reuse. Also, manufacturers and distributors are required to pay for postuse disposal with money collected used for the city’s waste management.

ASEAN destination: Chiang Mai - Thailand

Thailand’s second largest city is a melting pot of culture and tradition, religion and food, nature and adventure.

Sightseeing:

Royal Flora Ratchapruek. Eighty hectares of landscaped gardens opened to the public in 2006 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s accession to the throne. The park is named after Thailand’s national flower Ratchapruek (cassia fistula or golden shower tree). The park is divided into different areas representing different countries through flowers and other historical or cultural symbols of the country represented.

Doi Inthanon. This national park is 2,500 meters above sea level and home to several majestic waterfalls that are easily accessible. Reach the summit of Doi Inthanon and see panoramic views of the city. Hiking, trekking, wall climbing, cave visiting, and bird watching are some of the other activities to be enjoyed.

Sankampaeng Hot Springs

A 40-minute drive away from the city of Chiang Mai, Sankampaeng Hot Springs is a truly relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Though the place does not offer any five-star luxury, it is a great venue for picnics with the scenic mountain landscape in the background while soaking at the natural hot water stream.

Do Not Miss:
Sunday Walking Street Market. A good place to shop for handmade arts and crafts from hill tribes. The night market is larger in area than the Saturday market (locally known as Wualai Market). Starting from Tha Pae Gate and extends more than a km down to Ratchadamnoen Road.

 
GETTING THERE

By Air – Daily flights from Vientiane
By Bus – Daily from Nongkhai (Thailand) to Chiang Mai

 
DINING

Ohkajhu Organic Farm & Resturant - The newest trend in the city when it comes to healthy eating. Enjoy an all-organic meal, meat or full vegan, from a wide seletion of dishes and beverages in a cool and relaxing ambience.

 
SLEEPING

Vanilla Place. A boutique guesthouse located at the heart of Chiang Mai with 15 beautifully decorated, teak furnished rooms that offer the convenience and comfort of one’s own home. A 5-minute walk from the night market and close to Anusarn Market and historical Ta Pae Gate. www.vanillaplace-chiangmai.com

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