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
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
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
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
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
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
No Longer Their Guest
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
Many, many thanks, again - Keep up the good work!