LETTERS
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Golf in Yangon -Part 2

Is this the future of Thailand?

Poetry - A Pathway to Peace

Itís panda-monium in Chiang Mai

Help the kids

Golf in Yangon -Part 2

Editor;
I promised to let readers know how my first trip to finally play a round of golf went. So, this Friday on my first day off (without rain) and as I am an early riser, I got up at 5 and arrived at the course at 6.30 a.m.

This is a picture of my golf ball sitting on a mud hill. The grass surrounding the ball is actually the fairway. It was soaking wet today, I was sprinkled with mud up to my face.

The formalities, presenting the membership card, paying 1 US$ green fee and US$2 caddie fee and 1 US$ cart fee, went reasonably fast.

The tee off area, when I stood on it, well, I have seen better ones, but never mind. I would place my ball on a tee anyway. I hit the ball pretty well actually. Accustomed that a ball hit with a driver rolls for some more yards after it lands on the fairway, I was surprised when it didnít move an inch. Funny I thought, last night it didnít rain, but letís see. I went back to the caddie who smiled at me, a gorgeous looking girl with yellow paste on her cheeks and forearms. We walked on the cemented pathway and approached the area where my ball landed.

Being on the same height as I thought the ball was, I couldnít see the white thing. But my caddie walked confidently onto the fairway, picked up the ball, took some sand out of her little bag and constructed a little pyramid. My ball was placed back on top of this. Now I also stepped on the fairway and was welcomed with a slurp, caused by the water on top of the soil, unable to drain as the groundwater level must have been right below the surface. Arriving at the ball, I looked for the caddie and the cart, both waiting on the cemented pathway.

I called for a 7 (iron not wood) after I looked at the distance to the hole. She smiled and stood motionless. No English, I thought, and went back over troubled waters to my golf bag, withdrawing my club. At this time, the water already swamped into my shoes and walking wasnít that easy with the high water level. I started to perspire on the first hole prior to my second shot. Lesson No. 1 learned here: the caddie I hired was only for pulling or pushing the cart with my golf bag. If you need someone to carry the club selection as required from and to the golf bag, a second caddie needs to be hired, but who knows in the beginning?

Arriving back at the pyramid, I mustered for the first time the type of grass the fairway was laid out with. I thought, thatís heavy rough on other courses in Thailand. I looked to the side into the rough and saw a jungle. A rule of the Golf Club allows that if you land in the jungle, you can lay off the ball one club length from the landing area of the ball. If you are further off, you better take voluntarily a drop shot. This opportunity I was forced to take on various occasions during the round. I fought my way through the first nine holes and seriously thought about giving up. Being so early on the course, I assumed to be the first one around, but that was only a guess. On the fourth hole I caught up with two groups of golfers in front of me, one consisting of four, the other of five. I got stuck, since they had no intention of letting me through. Luckily, they finished the game after nine holes.

On the 17th hole, I heard a noise and looked up. Thai Airways was lifting off for Bangkok, how much I wished I could be on this plane to finish off the last two holes in a beautiful country which I miss more every day. By that time (17th hole) I already thought about the need for a hip replacement, as 4 hours of walking through mud and water had taken its toll on my legs. The skin on my feet, inside my socks and shoes had already peeled off.

On the 18th, I felt as you will, if you ever play here, like a winner, not because of a good round of golf, but because I made it. The next day my girlfriend came. So, being a little sarcastic, this time I wanted to give her the pleasure of something original and we went to that same golf course with a friend. She usually plays well (she has a single handicap), much better than me, but she looked drained at the end and I actually never saw her doing so many miss-hits, which made me feel pretty good.

By the way, Burmese citizens are great golfers and they are able to hit their golf balls very far and with great accuracy. It makes me wonder why there are not many Burmese in the PGA or WPGA tour events. With regards to the fees mentioned above, they seem reasonably low; however, playing golf with membership can easily get the price tag up. You can expect a green fee between US$35 and 50 during weekdays and up to 65 US$ on weekends. Expect and do not complaint, when Burmese play only 1/10 or 1/50 what you pay as a foreigner on the course. This is not different from the Thai system and finally something familiar.

There is a beautiful golf course in Yangon, called Pun Hlaing, which is of international standards and all conditions mentioned above are not valid for this magnificent piece of landscaping.
Ike Burnett
Yangon


Is this the future of Thailand?

Editor;
I live in Chiang Mai to study for my MBA and moved into one of the student compounds. For the last couple of weeks I wonder what is wrong and with who?

I read everywhere how nice, friendly and clean Thais are butÖ

I agree about the friendliness in shops and on the street. I disagree with friendliness regarding traffic and with just a Ďhelloí when you leave the room. I tried so many times - just outside in the hallway to say hello to the neighbors or their guests, which is a Ďnormal thing of politenessí. But they rather bend down to close their shoes rather than greeting.

Next to me is the room of 2 students (girls) and I watch almost daily the way they Ďcleaní their room. Just the broom and out with everything in the hallway - somebody will eventually clean it. It is disgusting to say what they clean out. Is this the future of a country that claims to be the pride of Asia?

My friends back home told me I still suffer from Ďculture shockí but I do not. Iíve been here now a little over 4 months and it is not getting better. People are Ďafraidí of my Ďbig eyesí, they try to leave a seat between me and them in the university and they are just the contrary of friendly. I tried everything, even with inviting a bunch of guys to my room in the evening. They said Ďyesí but nobody showed up. I know this again is a way of not making me feel bad Ö but I had some specialties from home and just wanted to get to know people. It does not work.

I am just frustrated and had to get it off my chest! Chiangmai Mail is the only thing where I seem to find information what is really going on in the city, thatís why you received it. Hopefully things will get better with time, since I chose to come here and I want to make it work.
Frustrated,
Pete L.


Poetry - A Pathway to Peace

Dear Editor;
I would like to share this poetry with the readers. It was written by Venetia Waltrey, Pasay Lamphun. Thanks.

Poetry - A Pathway to Peace

If all the paths to war were paved
With poetry of peace
Perhaps the men who tread that path,
Might cause the wars to cease.
For poetry enables us,
To search the human heart,
And they might find a peaceful path
Where wars could play no part.
The conquest of the human heart
Is where the wars are won
The Buddha won that battle
And showed it can be done.
So let us join the battle
Where Peace can reign supreme
Peace in our hearts
Peace in our world
No longer just a dream.


Itís panda-monium in Chiang Mai

Dear Editor:
Life is good - at least for us Chiang Maians. Why? Because we donít worry about nuclear weapons which canít be found in Iraq, we donít worry about APEC and Pres. Bushís presence in Bangkok later this month, we donít worry about possible terrorist attacks, we just worry about the pandas (!) arriving in Chiang Mai. Isnít that nice? Every single Thai person you talk to nowadays, the topic is (or will be changed to) ďpandasĒ. The farangs you talk to? Well, itís pandas too, but with a slightly different approach. Some are really concerned about the money which has been spent on the facilities, and the animals themselves, and that that money could have been used for ... ok, ok, we know.

But most of them comment the article in your paper last week (ďPanda pandering continuesĒ), and the heartbreaking story describing how they met, how they (hopefully) will enjoy their first intercontinental flight, and all that. Really, really sweet. Itís good to read news approached with a good sense of humor, but still informative, because thatís exactly what we need in our times.

Having lived in this wonderful country for a number of years, I learned to look at the bright side of life, I learned not to take life toooooo serious, and to enjoy the little, yet equally important, things. If I would want this country to become just like my mother country, I should rather go home. Itís me who has to adapt, because itís me who has chosen to live here. If I have a reason to be concerned about the upcoming new regulations for foreigners, I am the one who should consider leaving. Or, alternatively, get my act together, and my papers legally in order. But Iím loosing it ... because, for this week, all I am concerned about is that the cute pandas will arrive safe and sound, that they will not catch the flu, that the immigration officers will be friendly and smiling, that the imported bamboo is to their liking (the Pandas, that is, not the immigration...), and that the thousands and thousands of well-wishers on the streets will not scare them off. If itís not raining, Iíll be there. I love Pandas.
Kenneth Rawland


Help the kids

Editor;
The poor children of Buddha Kasetra School (Karuna Dana Project) need your help! More information from Phra Daniel Nagasiri, tel. 06 185 8612 or email: taman63 @hotmail.com

Peace and wisdom to you all!
Phra Daniel