Other caring entertainers are joining rapper Apisit "Joey Boy" Opasaimlikit in coming to the aid of the vanishing forests of Nan.
More generally, they’re coming to the aid of the province’s governor, Suwat Promsuwan, after he came under attack on the “Reclaiming Thailand” Facebook page for letting the trees wither – or be burnt.
Enraged, Suwat demanded constructive proposals from the “keyboard brats” instead of criticism and said he had 500,000 rai in need of replanting. Joey Boy promptly offered the nearly Bt390,000 remaining in his 2011 flood-relief fund, and DJ-singer Suharit Siamwalla has pledged another Bt500,000.
Then Sukollawat “Weir” Kanarot came forward with a novel idea. He and Muang Nan Mayor Surapol Thiensut staged “Hug Weir for Nan Forest” in front of famous Wat Phumin and loads of people paid good money to give the handsome actor a squeeze.
“The money might not be much, but I’m determined to give something back to society,” Weir said. “And these aren’t just hugs – I want them to be symbols of unity. We all need to hug the forest.”
A major local fan of Weir absolutely insisted she was there to hug a tree, not him. “I’m very worried about the deforestation in my province,” she said convincingly. “I get really upset when my friends visit from other provinces and ask me where all the trees have gone. So seeing Weir doing this for the people of Nan is really impressive.”
Tree-huggers or star-huggers, deforestation is a problem right across Thailand, so Weir might have to come up with millions more hugs to turn the situation around. Not Joey Boy, though. No one wants to hug Joey Boy.
Bottled up for posterity
Surely crazy old Vincent van Gogh is used to being recycled by now. His grizzled face and iconic paintings are replicated on all sorts of weird merchandise – everything, it seems, short of medical bandages, which would be tacky.
At least Taiwanese firm Unison Developing is trying to save the world by turning four million used plastic bottles into a mammoth replica Vincent’s “The Starry Night” to promote recycling. The image is rendered in coloured plastic and covers 53 hectares, Reuters reports.
The Starry Paradise park outside the city of Keelung opened earlier this year to mark the 125th anniversary of the Dutch post-impressionist’s death in 1890. (Okay, so they were a bit late.) The year before he died he painted “The Starry Night” – shivering stars and moon and cypress silhouettes all rendered in swirling pigment.
Visitor reactions to the recycled replica have varied, says Reuters, which found at least one moderately happy customer.
“We came here right after work to have a look,” the news agency quotes 22-year-old Fan Yu-Hsiang as saying. “It’s very big and there are a lot of PET bottles! I think it looks more beautiful in photographs, but looking at it like this is still impressive.”