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Pave the way

More from traffic in Myanmar: How to save fuel

Good luck, Marc

Why do I read about an event after it has happened?

Public announcement from U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai

Pave the way

Dear Editor;

Various news stories reveal that the long-contested Night Safari will open in 2005, in plenty of time to play a supporting role for the 1.95 billion baht Horticultural Expo, to also be placed in Mae Hia district, in 2006. Lucky all those new roads are being built eh?

There is another significance to the year 2006, which as yet I have not seen recognised or discussed anywhere in the media. Nor have I heard it discussed amongst the various elites of educated Thai or foreign peoples.

As we are all aware, Chiang Mai’s defensive foundations were started on 19th April AD 1286 (expanding the existing Lawa settlement of Nopburi, hence the name Nappaburi Sri Nagara Chiang Mai). 2006 is therefore the 720th anniversary of the founding of the city we know today. Or, to put it another way - the 60th cycle anniversary of the founding of Chiang Mai.

Surely that is a major reason for city-wide celebrations and festivities to coincide with the Horticultural Exposition? Perhaps we should start the city beautification program now, by repainting the dirty concrete and adding Lan Na features to the modern angular edifices. More importantly, perhaps we should stop tearing down traditional buildings as has happened all too often in recent years, and instead start repairing and restoring them.

Another reason to celebrate, in 2006, is the 730th anniversary of the founding of Wieng Kum Kam (on top of an earlier Mon-Khmer settlement) in the area named (then & now) as Ban Mai - New Village. Whilst not as auspicious as the New City’s 60th cycle, nor even a full cycle in itself; given that the Wieng’s own major cycle was not fully celebrated, could we not exercise a little festive license and draw our earlier neighbour into a year of good cheer?

Why not adopt a slogan for the preparations - one which all nationalities of locals could embrace?

Perhaps, “Ban Mai, Chiang Mai, Khit Mai, Tham Mai” (or is that political plagiarism?).
Garry Harbottle-Johnson

More from traffic in Myanmar: How to save fuel

To Chiangmai Mail;

Last time I wrote to you regarding crossing a street in Yangoon, let me enlighten you about the traffic a little more...

You find cars on the road which would not even pass the most tolerant inspection for driving and safety suitability (not even in remote areas in Thailand). You think the car here comes from different jigsaws, as parts of various brands are assembled into a moving piece leaving behind a cloud of dust and dark smoke. Perfecting welding techniques have made it possible to combine these parts, which may have only a little bit less rust or fewer holes than the original body had before it was disassembled and put together again.

This is a gas station. The operator got a bit angry when I took the picture. He came running after me.

Gasoline can be bought in different qualities, cheap and less cheap, which makes driving even for less fortunate very affordable here. However, the gasoline comes with 60-65 Octane at a price of US$0.18 per gallon, or the better version of 90 to 95 Octane at US$1 per gallon. The better and more expensive power juice is mostly burned inside the combustion chamber as intended by its inventor, the low end product is partially burned inside the engine and the rest is spit out through what you call an exhaust pipe, either in liquid form or in black dark smoke.

Gasoline is also an additional or part of an income for government employees. They get two or three gallons per day as an allowance and all they do not use is sold to roadside private gas stations.

An oil gallon container with a flower stuck into it and placed on the road is a typical sign for such an enterprise - while drivers of company cars are regularly caught stealing the high quality spirit of their company cars by sucking the precious liquid out of the tanks and selling it to the street entrepreneurs, who in return enrich the liquid with some water for easier flow.

Energy and fuel saving is a big thing here and practiced during the evening and nighttime hours. They switch off the lights of the car and use only the parking lights, probably so that it will not blind the drivers of the opposite traffic.

However, a dark military truck in camouflage colors, without lights, regardless if closing in from behind or from the opposite direction, becomes a surprise when you suddenly see it appearing, be it from the front or in the reflection of your own taillights. Isn’t it common knowledge, that if you don’t switch on your lights or only very little of it, you will save a lot of fuel? It really is a challenge after all those years in Thailand. Wonder if one can get used to it.
Ike Burnett
(Still alive and kicking in Myanmar)

Good luck, Marc

Dear Mailbag,

Your article on Marc leaving the Amari Rincome was very interesting. I was really sorry to hear that he was leaving the Amari and would like to know about his new business, as many people including myself would like to support him in any enterprise.

My experience with Marc has been a delight as he’s always been helpful and has never been too busy to talk to people.

I had a friend visiting me from Koh Samui who was interested in moving to Chiang Mai as well as studying to be in the hospitality industry. I asked Marc if he had time to speak to him and he said, “no problem”, just tell me when. He was more than helpful and shared his knowledge and experience very openly and willingly.

I, for one, wish him the best of luck in any enterprise that he should enter.
Paul Schoenkopf

Why do I read about an event after it has happened?

Dear Editor,

I will try to keep it brief. Ref: Vol II No. 36, Saturday, September 6, Subject ‘Latin Jazz with Jazzismo’. I am 65 years old, married to a Thai woman and contended to the point that we rarely go out in the evenings. But Jazz has been a lifelong interest.

Question: Why do I read about an event after it has happened? Before retiring - 30 years in London with publications like ‘Time out’ and ‘City Limits’ - I knew what musicians were playing at any venue, any time of the week.

I look forward to visiting ‘Blue Note’ - but I am saving this experience for later.

My three years in Chiang Mai - sorry - only three experiences of live music, each time by word of mouth information.

First experience: a poster in the Art University but when a tuk-tuk driver brought me there, the security guard smiled, but had no idea what I was looking for. Good fortune, a young Thai student with a bike came by and took me to the right place.

Second experience: two of my private students called to tell me about a Jazz performance, picked me up and took me there. A ten piece band was performing and we had a great evening.

Third experience: an American lady who I had never met before or since, told me about a concert that very evening at Payap University, a duet. Out of this world!

What about to teach people to list and inform you about those kinds of things. You are in the ‘information industry’ and we here in Chiang Mai rely on you. Tell those galleries, universities and pubs to let you know about specials BEFORE they happen! It would be a win-win situation for all. You have information and advertising. They have more guests and we are all happy!

Best regards,
Ray Dash

Chiang Mai

Ed’s note: This is, of course, a good suggestion, and thank you for passing it along. We do try to promote every event like this that we are aware of, and encourage anyone with an upcoming event to let us know so that we might let others know. As for your pining for Jazz, you might try keeping an eye on the “entertainment” section of the community happenings pages (pg 10&11).

Public announcement from U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai

Planning to travel to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program? Starting October 1, 2003, you will need to have a machine-readable passport.

A machine-readable passport has two rows of digits running along the bottom of the biographic information/picture page, and all biographic information is in typeface.

You are eligible to enter the United States without a visa if you are planning to visit as a tourist (not study or work) for 90 days or less, have a round-trip ticket, and are a citizen of Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom.

Please plan ahead for travel after October 1: If you are otherwise eligible for the Visa Waiver Program but do not have a machine-readable passport, you will still need to apply for a U.S. visa.