HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Life in Chiang Mai for two “farang” teachers

Thank you from the bottom of our Lucky Dog heart

Travel smart, even when staying in a 5 star hotel

CMM could be more “search-friendly”

Life in Chiang Mai for two “farang” teachers

“HEY YOU, hullo, where you go pretty lady?” we hear wherever we go in this country. As two young foreign women, we are most definitely a rarity in Thailand; we are two distinct species in Chiang Mai. Every other foreign inhabitant of this city seems to be of the older and more masculine variety and here we are two female “farang” English teachers in our early twenties.

“Heads turn as we wander through Warorot Market doing our weekly shopping.”

So, what is life really like for two female “farangs” living alone in the strange world of Thailand’s northern capital?

Sitting in our cozy British living rooms, sipping cups of tea four months ago, I could never have imagined myself where I am now. Three months living in Chiang Mai has practically turned us Thai. We eat out of banana leaves, ride around hanging off the back of songtaows, dine in the pits of the darkest noodle shops in Chiang Mai and are forced (usually against our will) to speak (and sing) over the microphone at least once a day.

Everywhere we go, we are stared at in wonder as we try to lead as normal a life as is humanely possible in this world which seems like another planet compared to home. Heads turn as we wander through Warorot Market doing our weekly shopping. Thais all gaze in bewilderment and horror as we sit to eat lunch in the most obscure of places, resembling dark slaughterhouses, where other foreigners would not dare venture. Their terrified faces ask: how did the “farangs” manage to wander so far from the night bazaar? But, they need not fear, as in just three months we have managed to master the Thai language of cuisine!

Jogging along the banks of the Mae Ping River we are a source of local amusement, as we plod past Thais barbequing their fish, with the chickens squeaking and flapping out the way. We keep the Lampoon bus riders on the edge of hysterics most days on the journey home from school as we cling with dear life onto the back of the songtaows.

Somehow we cannot help feeling like alien creatures. We are enormous, clumsy and extremely white in comparison to the petite and graceful Thai women. We cannot find clothes big enough to fit us in this country. “We have big size, we have elephant size,” the market vendors shout as we try to find beautiful clothes in XXL.

Yet a world which was once so strange and full of mystery has now become our home. We no longer flinch when we see a cockroach scurrying along the noodle shop floor, we have grown used to the barking dogs and the site of fried maggots at the market, we love the taste of som tam, sticky rice and pat si iw. Chiang Mai and life in Thailand has slowly begun to grow on us.

Life in Chiang Mai for two female teachers is exciting and challenging; we love to explore the sights, sounds and most of all tastes of the city. Soon there won’t be a noodle shop in Chiang Mai that hasn’t served up noodles for the old “farang” teachers!
Louisa Strain and Lucy Adams

Thank you from the bottom of our Lucky Dog heart

In Chiang Mai Mail’s first issue of this year, LuckyDogs was asking for help from the Chiang Mai people for 35 dogs rescued from the cooking pot.

Some of you replied and LuckyDogs would like to express our greatest gratitude and respect for letting your heart speak. Personally, we’d like to thank Khun Aumporn, general manager of the Premphracha Collection who adopted 3 dogs and is awaiting the fourth one. Khun Faithong Chaniboon, leader of the Women’s Activity Community of Wat Suan Dok, she adopted one female. And Mr. Grant adopted Ginger (see January 17 2004 issue). Also Ginger’s look-a-like sister and Ben found good homes, together with several of their friends.

Besides adopting a dog, many people have helped us through donations. Amongst others were Sylvia and Dave from Dasydesign, Sudalak Reautianchai, GM of Tara company, Pornpimol Tanpairor, GM of Chiang Mai Sinseree Co., Ltd, Mr. Tayo and Mr. Dave who donated dog cages.

Thank you all so much for your help! However, 35 dogs is a lot and there are still some left, waiting for somebody who is willing to provide them with a loving home. Therefore, LuckyDogs Club would like to call upon help once more. For information, adoption or donations (dog food is perfectly all right!) please call: 053 432 362 during daytime.
Nienke Parma for LuckyDogs Club

Travel smart, even when staying in a 5 star hotel

Dear Editor:
I read with interest Larry Schuett’s letter regarding theft at a Bangkok hotel, and am writing to say that one of the expensive five star hotels in Bangkok has experienced similar problems. Apparently a gang of con artists has found certain hotel guests to be easy prey, probably with assistance from someone at the front desk who notifies them when farangs check in alone.

This is how it works: within minutes of checking in, the lone farang receives a knock on the door. Someone wearing a maid’s uniform is bearing flowers, or fresh linens, and asks to be let in. If the victim is unlucky enough to have taken off his or her ring or watch or laid a cellular telephone or purse down, it and the “maid” quickly disappear after the flowers are arranged or the linens hung up. This hotel actually has a video of one of these “maids” changing into and out of the uniform in the hotel elevator, yet has taken no responsibility for the crimes that are being committed there and is not warning its customers about it.

Certainly most hotel employees are honest, but scams are relatively easy to operate when guests are too trusting. Beware of allowing people into your room, don’t leave valuables lying around, and lock and chain or bolt your door yourself at night. And don’t trust those little room safes. Most of them have a master code that the wrong person may have learned!

No Longer Their Guest
J. Thompson

CMM could be more “search-friendly”

Dear Chiangmai Mail;
Many thanks for the great service you are doing for the English-speaking community here! I read your publication regularly, both hard copy and online. For this reason, I hope you don’t mind a couple of suggestions:

Events - It is difficult to navigate the various areas of the paper in search of information about upcoming events - do I look in ‘Happenings’, or ‘Community’, or ‘News’, or ‘Dining and Entertainment’? I happen to be looking today for information about Chinese New Year - celebrations, special dinners, etc., but can find nothing. Would an Events Calendar for the upcoming week be possible? It would certainly be helpful in planning for the week.

A ‘Search’ feature - again, in looking for the abovementioned information I realized that there is no way to do a search other than reading each section carefully which is very time-consuming, albeit not unpleasant. I believe that one can get such a feature from Google.

Many, many thanks, again - Keep up the good work!
Susan Stem