HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

More visa views

Traffic is a problem

Khao Lak not an island

FCCT plans Angkor without the crowd

More visa views


In response to "Can’t compare the bureaucracies" by Paul Schoenkopf, I would like to update his information a little. The American Visa fee is no longer 500 baht, it is 4200 baht. That is paid whether or not the Visa is approved! In addition, the Visa will probably not be multi entry for 10 years. My girlfriend got her Visa last month. It is good for 90 days, with one entry not to exceed 30 days. It must also be understood that the Visa does not guarantee entry. The official at the Port of Entry will decide if the Visa holder can enter, and for how long.

I don’t know if your friends would get their Visas today. It took my girlfriend three tries before she was successful, each time showing basically the same information (house, family, job, bankbook). It is still difficult to compare the two bureaucracies, and to be sure each is full of hurdles to overcome. Both are frustrating to deal with, that is for sure.

Dave Sleipness

Traffic is a problem

Dear Editor,

Recently you reported that Prime Minister Thaksin admitted defeat in curbing road deaths during the Songkran festival. This isn’t his failure but a failure of the people of Thailand as a whole.

Figures suggest that more people died in motor accidents during this festival than the entire tally of the Iraq war and SARS combined! If you’ve experienced the poor road habits of drivers in this country you’ll understand why.

Thaksin doesn’t drive a car so he never notices how often people impatiently pull out in front of rapidly approaching vehicles, or the audacity of drivers to run red lights long after they’ve changed. Does he not notice how often more than two people are seated on a motorbike (the most I’ve ever seen is six!), and the cheeky habit of carrying a helmet simply to slip it on you head when you suddenly chance upon a police check.

Then there are the big 4X4s, Mercs and Volvos who assume a god given superiority to ignore road markings and rules. What about the countless unroadworthy vehicles (dead headlights particularly)? Thaksin should also take a trip out of town and witness how often vehicles overtake on blind corners and over solid white lines.

A recent police spot-check campaign on city highways (prior to Songkran) did little other than ‘oil the palms’ of the officers involved. Do we ever see them reprimanding reckless and aggressive drivers, fining speed offenders or keeping order at congestion points (e.g. Kad Suan Kaew’s songteaw bottleneck)? Perhaps the Lord Mayor should take note and invest his ‘city beautification’ budget in traffic cameras, the ‘bribe-free’ income alone would probably finance a complete city makeover!

It’s time for Thai drivers to collectively accept responsibility for their actions on the road and exercise more consideration to others who are using Chiang Mai’s increasingly congested roads. It’s time for the traffic police to conduct their jobs properly and get tough. It’s time for offenders to be heavily penalised until their habits improve. As it stands Chiang Mai, and Thailand, has an appalling road safety record.


Andrew Bond

Khao Lak not an island

Dear Editors;

In reference to the article "Lak Island new paradise tourist haven" in your 17 May edition, the destination discussed is not an island. It’s a beach area along the mainland in Phang-Nga Province. It looks as if your writer may have mistaken the Thai word ‘khao’ (mountain) for the Thai word ‘ko’ (island), sometimes spelt ‘koh’, and translated Khao Lao as Lak Island. In fact since Khao Lak is the name of the village where these resorts are located, there’s no reason to translate the name. It’s always referred to as Khao Lak by both Thais and foreigners. References to ‘island life’, ‘Lak Island’ and ‘Khao Lak Island’ in the article are thus incorrect.

One issue I’d love to see Chiangmai Mail cover is the issue of live music in our city. The ‘new social order’ introduced by the ex-minister of the interior has been used as an excuse by Chiang Mai police to fine and/or close down licensed places of entertainment who do not have a so-called ‘live music license’. In fact, according to licensed Thai attorney and Thammasat law lecturer Kittiwat Rattanadilok, who also happens to be a legal adviser to PM Thaksin on tourism and entertainment law, there is no such thing as a ‘live music license’. It appears to be a device cooked up by or local police in order to extract bribes large and small. It is true that certain kinds of bands - those consisting of five or more musicians - are restricted to certain classes of venues. But Chiang Mai police do not follow the law and apply their own fake ‘live music license’ law to all venues regardless of the number of musicians involved.

This has not only done immeasurable harm to the business owners involved, it has had a noticeable ripple effect in our city, decreasing the availability of live music options for residents and visitors alike, and causing many local musicians to lose work. I think it would be very interesting to follow up this issue, if anyone at Chiangmai Mail has the time.

I like your publication - keep up the good work!


Joe Cummings

FCCT plans Angkor without the crowd

June 20th to June 22nd
Members: 23,500 Bt.
25,500 bt.

Enjoy the chance of visiting Angkor like correspondents in the pre-UNTAC era, without the crowds which have been flocking the place recently and kill the chance of dreaming in your favorite temple ... Yet enjoy the comfort, superb pool and great cuisine of the Sofitel Royal Angkor Hotel, a deluxe resort only 4 kilometers away from the Angkor Complex.

Don Felipe has returned with one of his trips for FCCT Members and friends which promises to be the event of the season ... with special happenings during the voyage!

The FCCT will take 50 members and friends to Angkor Wat departing on Friday 20th at 8 a.m. from Don Muang with return scheduled for Sunday 22nd at 20.30.

The price for this unique opportunity: 23,500 baht for members and 25,500 for non-members. It includes airfare, room for 2 nights (2 sharing) breakfast and all meals including gala dinner, transport in Siem-Reap Angkor, access to Angkor Wat and access to VIP Sofitel Salons at Siem Reap Airport. Excludes visa (20$), airport tax Don Muang and Siem Reap Airport (15$). For a single room, add 2,500 baht per night)

To be able to pull up this trip at an incredible price the FCCT requires no less than 50 members or friends booking with Khun Noi at the office (02 652 0580) with a deposit of 5,000 baht no later than May 30th.

Should any unsavory event force us to cancel this event, members and friends will be refunded in full.


Friday 20th

8.am Depart from Don Muang Terminal 2

9.am Arrival in Siem Reap and transfer to Sofitel Royal Angkor Hotel.

10.30 Mini-buses depart for Angkor Wat-Angkor-TOM and rotation between all the temples where participants can pop-in and out wherever and whenever they wish.

12.00 to 14.30 Lunch served at the "Restaurant d’Angkor" in front of Angkor-Wat. Members can come at any time during this period using FCCT mini-buses shuttle.

Until sunset: Continued mini-bus shuttle for members until sunset and return to Sofitel Royal Angkor.

7pm Cocktail at the Wayfarer’s Bar hosted by Supachai Verapuchong, owner of the hotel and Mr. Marc Begassat, general manager of the Sofitel Royal Angkor.

8.30pm Barbecue dinner on the terrace and traditional Khmer show.

Saturday 21st

7.30 Breakfast buffet at La Citadelle Restaurant (opened from 6 a.m.)

8.30 Departure by mini-buses to Beng Melea (if weather and road allows) with members of Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient to explain the location or to another little known temple.

Noon: Picnic on the spot especially prepared by the Sofitel Royal Angkor chefs.

3pm Return to hotel.

6pm Informal press briefing at the Wayfarer’s Bar with H.E. Khieu Kanharith, Secretary of State for Information and H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Secretary of State for Tourism, on various topics such as the results of the ASEAN Forum, the upcoming elections and the future of tourism in Cambodia.

8pm Gala dinner by the pool and dance.

Sunday 22nd

From 6am Breakfast served until 10 am.

From 8am FCCT Shuttles available for Angkor-Wat/Angkor-Thom or for Siem Reap town until 5pm. Members can also enjoy the Angkor Spa at special prices.

Fr. 12 to 2pm Buffet lunch for members at "La Citadelle Restaurant"

6pm Departure for Siem Reap Airport

7.30 Departure for Bangkok

NOTE to Members: all meals are included in the cost of the trip.