LIKE KING BHUMIBOL, Queen Sirikit has always had an interest in the environment, especially wildlife and its natural habitat, as well as the plight of the poor. One example of how the queen's influence has helped conserve many of Thailand's native plant species is the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden in Chiang Mai, which is well worth a visit. Queen Sirikit has travelled extensively around the country identifying areas of special need. To help her people, she has initiated several royal projects to keep alive traditional arts and crafts. There are many projects but, if time is short, make sure to visit the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Village in Ayutthaya province (about 50 minutes' drive from Bangkok) which showcases all her projects and gives a glimpse of life in rural Thailand. All the traditional handicrafts are on show, including silk weaving and dyeing, basketry and wood carving.