HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Looking for the fountain of youth

Is there another word besides racism?

Are only foreigners guilty of disrespect for the Buddha?

It’s OK to return to Hong Kong

SARS is good for health (at least for mine)

Looking for the fountain of youth

Dear Editor or Dear Readers,

I come with a question and hope someone will reply (even without a name) who has the experience already. I am 44 years old and live in Thailand with my husband. Now, everybody knows that the exotic Thai girls are a threat to every marriage, which means, we, the Farang wives, want to look best always, be in good shape, and have no wrinkles.

During the last year, in almost every department store you find clinics which offer Botox treatments. Botox, which is derived from the botulinum toxin A, is injected into the skin and works by temporarily paralysing muscles. Injections take effect about three to seven days after the treatment and the effect last three or four months. By selectively interfering with the underlying muscles’ ability to contract, existing frown lines are smoothed out and, in most cases, are nearly invisible in a week. So, this is a fact.

But - does anybody know if the physicians in Thailand are trained in giving these injections? If unqualified people are dispensing Botox, you run the risks of improper technique, inappropriate dosages, and unsanitary conditions. Botox is a prescription drug that should only be administered by a qualified physician in an appropriate medical setting. But can this be done in Thailand? I know Thai doctors are very good in facelifts, but I am so afraid of looking worse than now. I also heard that people who had Botox injections may develop new wrinkles as a result of the treatment.

I was so brave to walk in one of the ‘clinics’ here in Chiang Mai in a department store to get more information, but the reception girls did not speak a word of English and when I started to ask them with my ‘Farang-Thai’, they also could not give me a satisfying answer. What they told me is that a doctor is coming 2 times a month for Botox injections or any time when more than 3 people request it and pay in advance.

So, my question is: does anyone has experience in Botox treatments in Thailand, and is it safe to have it done here? I really do not know if Chiangmai Mail is the right source to ask this question but since I know how many people read it every week, I hope someone will take the time to tell me the experience.

Best regards and thank you for printing my letter.

Sonja Menendez

Is there another word besides racism?


I had friends from England visiting. We went to the Elephant Conservation Center and saw the show. When we went to pay for the tickets, my friend’s wife, who is Thai but pays taxes and lives in England, got in for free.

I have lived in three countries and traveled through over thirty countries and this is the only country that I remember racism is encouraged by government. It happens at the Wat at the Grand Palace, Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, all national parks where foreigners must pay ten times as much as a Thai. They claim that foreigners don’t pay tax here but Thais normally do not pay taxes in other countries but enjoy the same privilege as the nationals. I, as a teacher with a tax ID number, pay tax here but they still insisted on me paying the “foreigner’’ rate after explaining that it was because we don’t pay tax here and showing them my tax ID card.

If you can find another word besides racism, I would like to hear it.

Very truly yours,

Paul Schoenkopf

Are only foreigners guilty of disrespect for the Buddha?

Dear Editor

Just read the story concerning the Buddha Face image at the restaurant and I am amazed at the response of the Buddha Society.

These Buddha faces are made and sold all over the Chiang Mai area as items of decoration by Thai businesspeople. Their displays of the Buddha faces are the same as the display in the restaurant; in fact some faces are actually lying on the floor. In addition I have seen other kinds of Buddha images for sale everywhere and they are as close to the floor as the restaurant’s Buddha face.

The vast majority of foreigners have no wish to offend the customs and traditions of Thailand and certainly the people I know go out of their way to ensure that all social and religious customs are fully respected by them in Thailand.

Presumably the Chiang Mai Buddha Society will be asking the sellers of these Buddha faces to remove their Buddha images off the floor within 7 days and demanding a letter of apology, particularly as they are Thai and are much more aware of the Thai custom than a German businessman.

In addition, the law in Thailand does not allow any kind of Buddha image, old or new, to leave Thailand. How is it that thousands of Buddha images in markets and shops are for sale to foreigners who either take them out or ship them openly to foreign countries? Will the Buddha Society be telling these sellers to stop within 7 days and supply a written apology or is that reserved only for a German businessman?

Chan Ken

It’s OK to return to Hong Kong

Dear Editor:

The lifting of the travel advisory against non-essential travel to Hong Kong and Guangdong by the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 23 is a clear indication that both Hong Kong and Guangdong have succeeded in putting the SARS disease under control. In both places, the number of new SARS cases has been either zero or in low single digit for many days now, and the number of recovered patients is growing steadily. The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce does understand that many may have doubts about traveling to Hong Kong, but with this endorsement from the WHO that Hong Kong has contained the outbreak of SARS, we want to use this letter to ask business visitors and tourists alike to consider coming back to Hong Kong.

The Chamber wants our future visitors to Hong Kong to know that despite this victory, Hong Kong intends to keep up our infection-control alert and to maintain measures to ensure the good health of all who live and visit here. For example, at all border checkpoints and at the airport, temperature is taken of every incoming or outgoing person. Hong Kong has a transparent system with top-notch medical care, and your readers will find that citizens of Hong Kong are well informed on preventative measures to curb the spread of SARS. We will be vigilant to ensure that you will find Hong Kong even safer and cleaner.

Furthermore, the Chamber hopes that some discriminatory practices against travelers and goods from Hong Kong will be dismantled, since there is no reason - and WHO endorses this view - either to quarantine perfectly healthy travelers who come from Hong Kong or to be suspicious about goods shipped from Hong Kong which scientists say cannot possibly contain any virus.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s strengths as a regional business hub, and its hard-earned reputation for resilience and flexibility, make Hong Kong as important to international business today as it was before the emergence of SARS. It is an excellent location to be a springboard into China. China -and it is beginning to contain its own SARS problem - will continue to be the fastest growing economy in Asia which cannot be ignored by any far-sighted company. And Hong Kong provides business people a comforting and efficient location to do business with China.

Finally, with the WHO travel advisory lifted, the Chamber hopes to see many of you here in Hong Kong soon. Hong Kong business people are all geared up in re-engaging with customers and potential clients. In the next few months, in addition to company travel and dealings, a series of city-wide high profile activities, ranging from trade fairs, mega sales, discount travel packages, large scale international conferences, cultural events, etc., will be organized. You can discover for yourself that Hong Kong, the World City of Asia, remains a magnificent place for you to do business and explore.

Yours sincerely,

Eden Y Woon


Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce

SARS is good for health (at least for mine)

Dear Editor,

I am sitting on the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, reading newspapers, since it is too early to go to sleep. That’s why I have the time to write a ‘Mailbag’ letter (a first for me).

Since the beginning of the War in Iraq and the beginning of SARS, there is a big difference to see.

For me, I found out, it is not too bad. In Bangkok, people started to panic about 4 weeks ago, despite the promises of the government that Thailand is SARS free. So, one of the first things you do when you go to work and always with the fear of catching a dry cough in the back of your brain, is not to use the elevator in the morning.

I tell you: The first few days, I arrived on the 15th floor, where my office is situated, completely in sweat and out of breath. But it was not as bad as standing tight with 6 other people in a crowded elevator, not knowing which disease I might catch. On the 2nd and 3rd day, it was the same, but by now I lost more than 3 kilograms without any major effort, except the extra climbing at least twice a day. And my overall condition is a lot better than it used to be just 3 weeks ago. I stay away from associates and friends who have no other topic anymore except SARS. Meaning, I smoke less and I drink less alcohol, which is also not too bad for my health.

Now, sitting on the train, riding up to Chiang Mai to spend the weekend, it is once more nice, since the normally overcrowded compartments are half empty and it is really enjoyable to read a book, the newspapers or just write a letter (sorry about my handwriting) to bring my thoughts together. I am fully aware that the situation for people in the hospitality industry is more than bad, but for my personal situation, I haven’t felt more healthy and fit since I came to Thailand at the end of 1999.

With best regards and congratulations on a very enlightening and informative newspaper, I remain

Michael L. Herberholtz