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The White Bridge: Celebrating the 80th birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol

The fifth tee of the fabulous Gassan Golf Course in Tha Chompu, Mae Tha, Lamphun is known as the signature fair lane of the course. Also situated nearby is a place where time has stood still, The White Bridge, historical evidence of the construction of the railroad in 1917. With this well remembered theme, the owners, Mr. Pravit Reung-po and Ms. Promporn Eamjitmetta plan a fund-raising golf tournament. The Gassan Group plan to contribute the initial donation towards building a public park for all residents to enjoy in Lamphun Province. The proceeds of the golf tournament to be held on July 15, 2007 will hopefully top the figure of Baht 400,000 to start off the construction of the first phase of the park.

At the same time of the announcement of The White Bridge fund-raising tournament, Ramkamhaeng University announced the opening of a campus at the Gassan Lake City in Baan Thi for the purpose of teaching Golf Course Management. Presently, there is a need for this specific education due to the many golf courses operating in northern Thailand. The owners and management need to acquire in depth knowledge about successfully operating courses to meet the needs of golfers.

The Gassan management team invited 30 journalists from leading golf and sports magazines in Bangkok plus media from Lamphun and Chiangmai to cover the launch. On hand to greet the media was Governor and Deputy Governor. Both officials were ecstatic to have support of Gassan Management and the Ramkamhaeng University Professors at the press conference. All were invited to enjoy a relaxing afternoon of golf.

The morning started at the Mae Tha train station, a vintage building dating back about 60 years ago. A narrow passage was the only approach for the 60-passenger tour bus at the small station. After coffee and receiving the welcome kit, journalists and all passengers heard the hooting of an approaching train. A four bogey air conditioned train headed for the historic Khun Taan tunnel. This is the longest train tunnel in Thailand. Normally this is not a scheduled stop for the express service train and knowing passengers were not allowed to get off the train made walking at this picturesque spot even more enjoyable.

Near the walkway is the memorial to Mr. Emil and Mrs. Imgard Esisenhofer, the German engineer who supervised the project from 1914-1917. By building the Khuntan tunnel under the mountain of the same name the railroad surmounted a formidable obstacle, the mountain range separating the two valleys. This is the longest tunnel in Thailand, almost 1.5 kilometers in length, and took 11 years to build, starting in 1907. Construction was disrupted by the arrest of the German engineers in World War I. A part of the range of hills is now a National Park, unusual in having its own railway halt. Day-trippers can visit it by catching a stopping train, not an express. After the completion of the tunnel, the last great obstacle to King Chulalongkorn's dream was overcome, and Chiangmai in north Thailand was at last linked by a bond of steel to Bangkok far to the south.

The park headquarters provides information in English, and we learned that the park was first opened in 1975 and covers an area of more than 150,000 Rai. The mountain's peak reaches about 5,400 meters and several different types of plants and trees are growing here. It is home to many species of wildlife including buffalo, monkeys, bears, wild boars, wood hens and squirrels. Park attractions also include two beautiful waterfalls, abundant forests and of course, the Khuntan Tunnel, the longest railway tunnel in Thailand.

After riding through the tunnel two times, all passengers departed at the fifth hole. Upon arrival, the group was welcomed by folk dancing accompanied by a youth group playing local instruments.

The Lamphun Governor, Deputy Governor and Owner / designer of the Gassan group teed off and each managed to get the ball over the huge lake. All the golf carts were on hand to take the 100 persons to the clubhouse for good Thai food.

The Gassan Group: 1. Gassan Kuntan Golf & Resort, Maetha. 2, Gassan Lake City Golf & Resort, Baan Thi, 3. Gassan Marina Golf Club, Baan Thi (Oct 2007). Sales and Marketing Head Office: 109/1 Moo 2, Nong Phung, Sarapee, Chiangmai. Tel. 053-963202-4. Fax. 053-423871.


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