Vol. II No. 17 Saturday 26 April - 2 May 2003
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LETTERS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Not living in a bubble anymore

Racism or not?

SARS in Chiang Mai?

Looking for a way to clean up Chiang Mai

Songkran deaths in perspective

Not living in a bubble anymore

Editor;

I have lived in Chiang Mai since January 2000 and always thought it is a small little town with nothing going on. I lived in that bubble almost 2 years until I found at the end of 2002 your newspaper. Actually there is something going on in this town! It just slips by when you live a little outside of town. After a while you live as you would have lived in your home country, have a circle of friends, go to the same restaurants, the same bars, the same shopping centers ... you know what I mean.

But - we changed our lifestyle. We try to see Chiang Mai now as a town where things are happening and actually this letter is just a big thank you for providing this news every week. Please go on letting us know where to eat, changing from high class to moderate places (by the way, the turkey sandwiches as you wrote in No. 15 from Bake and Bite are really sensational) and please do not stop telling us the places where it’s ‘happening’. If you don’t mind I will also send in some information (by fax) to let you know in case I come across something. I know you cannot be everywhere and are relying on getting the information.

Your faithful reader,

Gerrit Anderson


Racism or not?

Dear Editor,

Re: More Government Racism in Thailand (Paul Schoenkopf) http://www. chiangmai-mail.com/current/letters.shtml

I am very happy to learn about this website. With technologies today, we are so fortunate to be able to know what is going on in our own town while we are so far away.

Today, when I read the “letter to editor” from Mr. Paul Schoenkopf “More Government Racism in Thailand”, it made me feel embarrassed and mad for our ignorance.

I would like to apology to Mr. Paul Schoenkopf for the incident which happen to you and your friends at Doi Suthep: “Foreigners 30 baht”. I, also, would like to answer you the few questions you asked.

“I am a resident of Chiang Mai. I had guests from Canada and Wales. We went to Doi Suthep only to find a sign that said, ‘Foreigners 30 baht’. My friend from Canada got right in for free. He is Chinese and they didn’t ask him for money. Is Chinese not foreign in Thailand?”

Yes, Chinese is a foreigner in Thailand although, Chinese-Thai is not. I am so surprised that your friend couldn’t tell the different and walked right in with out paying a fee of 30 baht which is what? 75 cents? When I visited Niagara Falls, I remember that I didn’t go to some sightseeing tour for the fee was $12-30 per person. That is about 480-1200 baht.

“My friends from Wales had to pay. I asked at the ticket counter, why did foreigners have to pay? The girl, struggling with her English, claimed that foreigners do not pay tax here. I showed her my tax ID card showing my tax number in Thailand and she said, ‘you are still a foreigner’. I then showed her my employee identification for being an ajarn at a Thai government owned university and she still said, ‘You’re foreign’. I said, what happene d to the reason that foreigners don’t pay tax here. I pay tax here and have been for many years.”

“The girl, struggling with her English” - poor girl! She can’t even speak English, working at a ticket counter for 100 baht ($1.50) a day, and yet, have to answer a “42 million dollars question” - to this ajarn (professor) who has been teaching at “a Thai government owned university ... for many years”.

Well, I am so sorry Paul. Sorry for her easiest answer that did not satisfy you. But you have picked on the wrong person. If you would let me though, I will love to explain why a foreigner has to pay a 30 baht (75 cents) fee to see one of the oldest, finest, meaningful, valuable, and very significant to Chiang Mai people: Doi Suthep.

With “many years” of your being in Chiang Mai, if you have not done your research yet, I would like to inform you that Doi Suthep was found by a forest monk (Kru Ba Srivichai) hundreds of years ago. During his “forest walk” in search of “peace of mind” and “one with oneself” he has come to this (Doi) mountain which is full of dangers: wild animals such as tigers, cobras, king cobras ... and ghosts. To make a long story short, people learn about this monk, have faith and respect for his study and his scarifying, they come together, donate their money, jewelry, food, and labor to build a “road” to Doi Suthep and the “Wat” for the monk and his pupils. Respect and faith never stop for this lifetime studying monk. Through the history of Doi Suthep, Kings of Laos, Burma, China, India ... had pay their visit. There is a belief that Buddha hair has been buried in the golden pagoda. Until these days, there are people from all over the country and all over the world come to wai, “pay a visit and a respect” to Buddha and Kru Ba Srivichai at Doi Suthep.

It become too large of a place and greatly significant that we could not keep the farangs out. “Small fee” is charged to keep the place clean. Many farangs don’t even know that they do litter for they are thinking that they are cleaner than the Thai any way.

“If a Thai goes to England, Wales, Scotland or America, I have never heard of anyone asking your nationality when you paid for a museum, national park, religious institution or any other reason.”

That is so true, Paul. The only thing is, to get a visa to go to your country just to visit your museum to see the oldest can of coke is damn difficult! If I am 5' tall, dark skin, black hair, black eye, carry a Thai passport and don’t have a million baht in my bank account, they put my visa application aside and never call me back. “If this isn’t racism, I don’t know another word that would describe it.” you are so right, Paul.

Truly Yours,

Roongrat Kumnodnab.

PS. excused my missed type or used farang’s language if, there is any. It is so difficult to learn the language and the people who speak them.


SARS in Chiang Mai?

Editor;

Is Chiang Mai a SARS safe city or why is precaution nowhere being seen? Everywhere in Thailand, in Hong Kong, Singapore and actually all over the world people are wearing masks and are careful. Everywhere but in Chiang Mai! Even as it seems that the epidemic has peaked, people should remain careful, but to me it seems after the announcement of PM Thaksin, people would love to catch the virus, secretly hoping to survive it, but on the other side speculating at the 2 million baht the PM said he would pay anybody who catches SARS.

Did, or did not one person die in a hospital in Chiang Mai, plus another one in Bangkok, but according to the news there were no other or new victims. Are we being kept stupid on purpose, or is it a matter of keeping the shutters down, so that nothing will happen to me?

But it would be nice to know if there was someone with SARS in Chiang Mai or not. Because it scares the *** out of me being around coughing people, not knowing if they just wait on getting ‘it’. What’s going on?

Luke Stark


Looking for a way to clean up Chiang Mai

Dear Sirs,

I live in Chiang Mai half the time and the other half in the IS. I have concern about the lack of garbage cans around the city. People are throwing garbage in any empty lot they can find. I have been to Chiang Mai over 15 times and see very little getting better.

I also see people throwing used motor oil in the waterways and drains. Does Chiang Mai have a recycling program for used motor oil? I go out many mornings in the Nong Hoi area to pick up paper and plastics. People need to be educated not to throw things on the ground. It seems that there is not enough people hired to pick up the litter all over the city. Who can I direct this information to?

Larry Peterson


Songkran deaths in perspective

To: [email protected];

It’s ironic, more people in Thailand died needlessly during the Songkran festival then the sum total of deaths from the Iraq war and the SARS virus!

TF Brandt, Chiang Mai



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