HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

“The best Sunday of our vacation”

Are there callable taxis in Chiang Mai?

Inner-city New Year celebration a disappointment

Some suggestions for gang-related law enforcement

Beware your valuables in Bangkok

“The best Sunday of our vacation”

Dear Chiangmai Mail,
Some weeks ago my husband and I went on a Thailand tour to look at the big cities as well as the countryside. It was my husband’s first time in Thailand and we had planned to stay in Chiang Mai for about 3 days to relax from our hectic travel around the south.

Thankfully we happened to stop here on the weekend and managed to get some information about the weekend market that is set up on Sundays along a couple of roads near Thapae Gate. My husband and I both decided it would be a nice way to spend our Sunday afternoon and we were both very surprised. I have never seen so many vendors set up along the sidewalks, with so many tourists, Thais and foreigners mingling together so well.

We spent the whole afternoon just walking and looking and especially enjoyed the little cafes along the sidewalks where one could sit, have a cold beer and just enjoy the scenery.

Chiang Mai mixes it so well. We found cheap tourist souvenirs next to beautiful art, paintings, clothes, ceramics, OTOP articles, the works.

Sadly, we had to leave after 3 days to continue with the rest of our tour, but this year we plan to return to Thailand and we will definitely be spending more than 3 days in Chiang Mai. And we will be reading your wonderful paper on the Internet.

Thanks Thailand for the great vacation,
Annette Bourgondy

Are there callable taxis in Chiang Mai?

Dear editor,
I have been living in Chiang Mai for a month now and would like to know if there is possibly a taxi service that you can call to pick you up at your house. I used to live in Bangkok with my daughter and even though we lived a little way out of town, there was always a possibility to call a taxi that would come to pick you up at your house. Does Chiang Mai have this kind of service? I don’t own a car since I never needed one but it seems that to be able to get around Chiang Mai you must have your own car. Even the taxis are horrendously expensive and obnoxious to you if you start bargaining. Please inform the public if there is callable taxi service. It would be most appreciated by at least one reader.

Thank you so much,
Martha Sounderer

Inner-city New Year celebration a disappointment

Dear Editor;
This New Year’s Eve I was very disappointed by the events that the Chiang Mai City set up in the city. I study in Chiang Mai University and last year my friends and I had a great evening sitting in front of the stage at Thapae Gate and watching performances and jokers until midnight.

This year we planned to do the same thing since we had a good time last year but somehow the city didn’t live up to its expectations. Nothing was going on at Thapae Gate, there were some Thai shows but my friends and I quickly got bored with them and decided to go to a nearby pub to celebrate New Years.

Somehow this seems not good for the city because they lost a lot of possible profit they could have made if they had set up more stalls, had good shows and entertained the people. My friends and I were very disappointed but maybe next year the city will learn something from their mistake.

But maybe they wanted to have people out of town? We knew there was a lot happening at the stadium but without a car to get there it seemed too dangerous. We read now that it was great but on the other side so many accidents.

Is it not possible to find a way to make everybody happy? Perhaps a bus service would be a good idea to bring kids and students to the stadium because no matter what, everybody drinks something on New Years and it is too dangerous.

A sad CMU student

Some suggestions for gang-related law enforcement

Dear Editor,
I have read with great interest your chronicling of the current juvenile gang situation in Chiang Mai. Throughout the long history of juvenile gangs the response by governments and law enforcement has been mixed. I have been in law enforcement for many, many years and spent eleven of those years dealing with juvenile gangs and the concomitant problems associated with their conduct.

I have great respect for Thai law enforcement and only wish to offer a few constructive comments which should be considered for possible implementation. First, uniform police officers (beat cops or traffic cops) are often not trained in the particular problems associated with juvenile gangs. With this in mind, I would respectfully suggest that the Royal Thai Police Command consider creating plainclothes “gang squads”, particularly in the larger cities.

The sole purpose and responsibility of these gang squads would be to deal effectively with this unique problem. These officers should all receive specialized law enforcement training prior to their assignment in these squads. They should also receive a period of joint training with Thai social service personnel in order to become more sensitized to the importance of working cooperatively with the social service agencies in finding solutions to the overall problem of gangs, whether they are associated with technical schools or just gangs which exist in certain neighborhoods.

Gang members should appropriately be remanded to juvenile detention centers if convicted of serious crimes of violence. On the other hand, sometimes non-prison solutions, such as job training and/or community service sentences for those committing property crimes or criminal mischief type offenses is more appropriate.

After training, consideration should be given by the Royal Thai Police Command to assigning “baby faced” police officers (gang squad members) to long-term undercover assignments in order that these officers might infiltrate the various gangs and thus provide vital intelligence information to their superiors. Again, these undercover officer assignments should not be short term but long-term, perhaps as long as one year in duration.

On the other hand, these undercover officers should normally not be left in this type of situation much longer than one year for fear of developing the Stockholm Syndrome and begin to identify with the juvenile gang members.

All of the above comments are meant to be constructive in nature. I have lived in Thailand for several years now and would hate for Bangkok and Chiang Mai cities to become “war zones” for juvenile gangs like those in Los Angeles and other areas in the U.S.

An Old Cop

Beware your valuables in Bangkok

I would like to share some information with Chiang Mai people who travel to Bangkok about getting robbed at a hotel!

On Sunday morning Jan. 18 we went down to the buffet breakfast which was included in our room rate of B 1,250 at the Royal Parkview Hotel in Soi 20 Sukhumvit Road Bangkok.

After having breakfast we returned to our room whereupon my wife Jeerapa remembered she had left her purse on the breakfast table. She quickly rushed downstairs with only about a five-minute lapse from the time we had left the table until she was back downstairs.

She looked around the breakfast area and asked all the staff who were present if they had seen her purse or seen anyone pick it up and they all denied seeing anyone. The suspicious looking waiter who looked after our table suggested that it may have been taken by another guest.

Jeerapa then used the phone at the front desk to cancel all of her credit cards which took about fifteen minutes and in the process was approached by one of the taxi drivers from outside who suggested that she call the police as a similar incident had taken place the week before.

When the police arrived they questioned all of the staff on duty in the restaurant area but no one had seen anything. This took place just outside the kitchen area and while searching around Jeerapa telephoned her mobile phone which was in the missing handbag. Not surprising she heard her mobile phone ringing just inside the kitchen door and after searching around one of the policemen found the purse tucked in a file folder behind a desk.

Between the police and Jeerapa it was determined that it had been the waiter who was looking after our table who had stolen the purse and after being questioned again he broke down and admitted it. Nothing was missing from the purse so we did not press charges, as it meant going to the police station and filing a complaint which we knew would take hours.

The waiter was reprimanded by the police and Jeerapa, was dismissed and he immediately left the hotel.

About fifteen minutes later while standing in the lobby we heard a British lady explaining to the girl behind the front desk that she and her boyfriend’s room had been broken into during the early morning hours of Sunday as their door was open in the morning when they awoke. They were missing two watches, cash and a digital camera from their room.

They had arrived late midnight the night before and had ordered food from room service. They went to bed after finishing eating at about 2 a.m. They remembered the waiter who brought the food had closed the door behind him when he left the room. The assumption was that he must have left the door ajar or unlocked the door somehow and came back later to steal the goods.

Jeerapa intervened to help the British couple as they could not speak Thai and the police who were again called back to the hotel could not speak English. After explaining to the police what had taken place all the staff in the hotel were questioned about who might know anything about this latest theft and again no one confessed to knowing anything. When we left the hotel to catch our flight back to Chiang Mai the British couple and the police and some of the staff were going back to the room to reenact the scene of the waiter leaving the room in the early hours of Sunday.

We don’t know what happened in this case but we do know that the staffs are most likely working together in stealing anything worth stealing. There was even a suggestion that the safes in the rooms were not safe because the technical staff could open them with a master combination.

We will never stay there again and we think tourists and locals alike should be aware of this problem as it’s a very dangerous situation.
Larry and Jeerapa Schuett
Chiang Mai