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
Traffic is a problem
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
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
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.
Khao Lak not an island
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
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!
FCCT plans Angkor without the crowd
June 20th to June 22nd
Members: 23,500 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
Should any unsavory event force us to cancel this event,
members and friends will be refunded in full.
8.am Depart from Don Muang Terminal 2
9.am Arrival in Siem Reap and transfer to Sofitel Royal
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
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
8pm Gala dinner by the pool and dance.
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
6pm Departure for Siem Reap Airport
7.30 Departure for Bangkok
NOTE to Members: all meals are included in the cost of