Thinking ahead ...
It’s about a month away - the annual water-fest known
as Songkhram in Chiangmai, and as Songkran elsewhere.
This is the only festival in Thailand that I don’t
like, not because of what it represents, but because of what it has become -
an excuse to kill and injure thousands in the name of Sanuk. Whilst we see
the death tolls in the national newspapers every year, and the government
puts it down to drunken driving, no-one seems to face up to the reality that
the casualties are caused by inconsiderate and juvenile actions by adults.
Adults who refuse to accept “No” from someone who doesn’t want water
and ice thrown at them. No statistics have appeared for the number of
illnesses and infections caused by dirty water from ponds and canals, nor of
any deaths that follow them.
There may be many reasons for saying “No” (or “Mai
ao” in Thai); maybe the victim is wearing work clothes and going there,
maybe they have to attend some form of meeting, or maybe they simply don’t
want to get wet. Whatever the reason, Songkran revellers should respect
Last year, seven days before the official start, I was
soaked from behind whilst carrying 100,000 baht worth of cameras.
Fortunately they were not in a normal camera bag, and thus remained dry. But
what would have happened if they had been damaged? Would the aggressor have
paid for repairs or replacements? Could they afford to do it? Remember this
was seven days before the official start. How many mobile phones will
“die” this year from the same cause?
My message therefore is if someone indicates they don’t
want to get wet, then they have a reason, which must be respected by those
holding the buckets and hose pipes. Unlike last year’s governmental ban on
pipe-guns being respected.
Songkran began as a way of showing respect for elders
with scented water gently poured over the hands or shoulder. Please can we
return some of the dignity to this festival and avoid forcing people to
“jail” themselves in their homes for ten days to avoid the ignorant and
selfish revellers who make daily travel impossible.
Thai culture allows great freedom to do whatever you
want, as long as you don’t cause effect to others - remember that
conditional when an angry wet person smacks you in the nose. Why should
non-participants have to change their lifestyle to avoid the aggressive
selfishness of others? Sometimes a smile and “mai pen rai” just
doesn’t cut it.
A working expat
Tourists risking life and limb
For about two months in mid-2002 there was a very large
billboard prominently displayed in the plaza at Thapae Gate here in Chiang
Mai. The billboard expressed the thanks of the people and administration of
the city of Chiang Mai to Prime Minister Thaksin for his approval of the
funding for a project to bury the telephone and electric lines on three main
roads in downtown Chiang Mai. I, too, applaud this project.
That said, I would like to point out that the initial
implementation of the project has been and continues to be a travesty. Both
sides, not just one, of Rachadamnern Road from Thapae Gate to Wat Phrasingh,
approximately two kilometers in length, have now been torn up for 4-5
months. I have seen at least two people fall and injure themselves on the
loose sand and broken up concrete. In this the high tourist season, the
large number of tourists who use this main thoroughfare must risk life and
limb by walking in the street. Could not only one side of the street have
been dug up and completed before digging up the other side?
The project is still far from finished. A hapless and
long-suffering shop owner on that road told me that the project to actually
bury the cables has now been postponed to a later date. So why is the street
still being torn up at this time, only to be soon covered over and then
later dug up and worked on? If this type of slipshod, unprofessional and
hazardous construction is carried on Thapae and Changklan roads the amount
of money lost by businesses on those streets will be massive. I suppose if
any of this comes to the attention of a local official, they will come up
with a variety of the usual lame excuses. Sometimes I really wonder why the
people of Chiang Mai tolerate such ineptitude.
I do hope that someone brings this matter to the
attention of former Prime Minister Banharn Silpa-archa, who reportedly has
been designated to oversee the improvement of this formerly fair city.
Finally, if PM Taksin is to take the credit for approving this project, he
should be made aware of the totally unacceptable manner in which it is being
carried out. This, after all, is his hometown.
We don’t need another war
Your correspondent Dr Iain Corness wrote something what
many people think nowadays. Why and who needs war?
Is it the family Bush? Son Georgie wants to finish what
Daddy could not do?
Is it Blood for Oil? To me this turning the truth is not
a fight against terror but a fight to rebuild the economic situation in the
I think it is pure sarcasm when Tony and George tell
Saddam - we don’t want war, there will only be war when you fight back ...
Don’t get me wrong, I am also no big friend of Saddam,
I just hate the whole situation - I want to live peaceful, I cannot believe
that people want to kill each other, that mothers send their children to war
and enjoy it.
Where are the youngsters to protest against war as we did
protest during the time of the Vietnam War? Where are the students to march
against these crazy power-hungry politicians to show them that they reject a
solution with force?
Thanks Dr Iain to write down what so many of us of the
older generation think - just let us and our children and grandchildren live
in peace. We have enough problems with terror, drugs, alcohol and the
environment. We don’t need another war.
Need more Chiangmai Mails
Congratulations on your newspaper, which I don’t want
to miss anymore. That is exactly what all of us interested in Chiang Mai
needed. Keep up the good work.
I am traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai regularly,
sometimes by plane, sometimes by train, and, to my surprise, I could find
the Chiangmai Mail once (!) at the Bangkok Train Station. Getting it
normally at Foodland, I thought ‘great stuff’, and I got myself
something to read for the time on the train. 2 weeks later, I had to travel
up again, didn’t buy the paper at Foodland, but couldn’t find it at the
station anymore (it was a Monday). What happened? I inquired at the stand,
and was told, “sold out”. Good for you, guys, but I would assume that I
am not the only one who would love to purchase your paper, and it would
probably be wise (and profitable...) to increase the number of copies which
you leave at this stand. On top of it, it’s convenient for your readers.
Makes sense? Thought so.
Anyway, that’s by no means a complaint, but more of an
information. Maybe you are not aware that your copies are selling like
Norman Wheeler, Bangkok
TOT on line not so cheap
To whom it may concern:
It’s not a wonder that TOT is giving free ISP. Each
time, in the past two weeks, when I connected to TOT it would disconnect
within seconds of connecting. Naturally, this requires another phone call
back to TOT which is NOT free. After three calls I usually switch to I-net
that is much more reliable. I’ve also got Loxinfo for dire emergencies
that is a more reliable service but much more expensive. With the constant
disconnects on TOT, both other services have become much cheaper.