LETTERS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Large worries and loping wonders

Do ants add flavor I wonder?

‘Hates Heart to Heart’ with Hillary

Giant Pot Holes

All’s fine bar the noise

Large worries and loping wonders

It been a pretty bad week all around. The Gulf coast was pounded by Hurricane Rita and almost a dozen elderly people lost their lives in an evacuation attempt. My trusted senator, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), usually a reliable liberal, voted in favor of conservative judge John Roberts Jr, being seated as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Hollywood tilted to the right, according to the International Herald Tribune, stadium size mega-churches are filled to capacity replacing the intimate houses of worship that once graced our country, and the Catholic Church has banned gays from the priesthood.

So it was a perfect weekend to visit Mae Sa Elephant Camp, a jungle encampment only minutes away from the city where those large, lovely animals cavort in the river, pose for pictures, paint extraordinary pictures, play soccer, and beg for tips.

I love elephants. I have adored the fine gray giants ever since I was a child, when I thought it would be wonderful to own both an elephant and a monkey, one to ride upon, the other to hug. When I went to Africa and saw them for the first time in the wild I realized how regal they were, and how gentle when not aroused to anger. Their intelligence is unquestioned and so is their attachment and affection for their families and packs. Elephants nurture their young and mourn the loss of their elderly. They protect and communicate with each other. And, it seems, they have a good sense of humor.

At the elephant camp where they are loved and well cared for by their mahoots, the young men who bond with a single elephant and train it, they performed delightfully, and quite remarkably. After playing harmonicas and dancing with much bowing and noisy fanfare they played a rousing game of soccer using both front and hind legs. They teased their mahoots, removing their straw hats and then gently replacing them, with a tap-tap-tap of their trunks on the mahoots heads. They demonstrated the work they once did in the jungle, hauling logs and using their trunks and heads to stack them. And then, holding brushes in their trunks, they painted the most extraordinary pictures abstracts and gentle flowers and lines reminiscent of Picasso. The paintings were so good in some cases that tourists actually paid $50 for them. At the end of their performance, they came to greet the applauding audience, heading straight for the ones with bunches of bananas to offer, banging their trunks on the benches, a clear signal that tips were being gratefully accepted. Then they posed with those of us unafraid of them, their prickly trunks wrapped around our waists. You could almost hear them laughing at the silly farang with their clicking digital cameras.

Sometimes the best remedy for the unnatural events of a terrifying world is to spend time in a natural setting with the animals who inhabit it. How ironic to be frightened by their gentle playfulness when all around us the sky seems, indeed, to be falling, largely because of human stupidity and bestiality.

For now, the storms seem to have stopped in the south and the church will no doubt continue at least for a while longer. War protests will grow and perhaps end the debacle in Iraq, new fighting aside, perhaps the Middle East will settle down once more, and maybe next yearีs elections will even restore some balance to the US legislature. But right now, if I had to vote for a congressman or a pachyderm, I know exactly which way my ballot would go.

Elayne Clift ([email protected])


Giant Pot Holes

Dear Chiangmai Mail

I’m writing to you about the recent floods which took place in Chiang Mai. The first time it happened was a bit sudden and most people didn’t have time to react since everything flooded in the night. But this time, people have actually learned something and it is nice to see that people stacked up sand bags in front of their homes and offices to prevent further damage caused by potential flooding. And talking to some I learnt that almost 2 million of these bags were provided by the mayor in city hall. Now, that’s what I call a positive approach.

What I am not impressed by, are all the holes which are in the roads that were flooded. Why isn’t anyone fixing those? If they fill up with water and one of those small, flimsy motorbikes drives through them, there will be a fairly severe accident. I just saw one this morning, two female university students with short skirts and as always no helmet, getting stuck in a pothole. Actually they went ‘flying’ and the bike got stuck. Lucky they were not seriously hurt.

I’m not in the construction business but I think there are ways to construct a road without those giant holes. Thank you for taking my concerns serious.

James Carson


‘Hates Heart to Heart’ with Hillary

Dear Chiang Mai Mail

I write you this letter with a compliment and a slight complaint. The good side first. Your newspaper is absolutely great, there’s no question about it. I look forward to it every Saturday morning when it comes out, and read it from front to back all at once as soon as I manage to lay my hands on it.

The news articles are good and sometimes I manage to pick up some vital information through it, since I can not speak Thai, and can’t watch local news on television. It is also interesting to se what the schools are doing and to read your feature articles.

And here come the bad side of the story. One thing I really don’t like about your newspaper is the ‘Heart to Heart’ with Hillary column. I find it absolutely appalling. This woman is not only incredibly rude and arrogant, but 99 percent of the time she only insults the people and doesn’t give any advice. Now while I do admit that the printed letters are rather silly and seem to repeat themselves, I don’t think she only gets bar-girl letters. Although it is nowhere mentioned that this is supposed to be an advice column, it is very clear that it is supposed to be something like what the English-language newspapers in Bangkok have to offer. The slight difference is that in those newspapers the column actually gives real advice which the person wanted to hear.

I really do enjoy reading advice columns but sadly, the one Chiangmai Mail has to offer is somewhat degrading for the people sending there (sic) letters and for that reason I only rarely throw a quick glance in it once in a while to check if the good lady has changed her ways. And also I do not believe that all men can be as stupid as the ones’ sending these letters.

This has not yet happened but I’m hoping after my letter there will be a noticeable change. Thank You for printing the letter.

D. P., Mae Rim

Hillary replies: My poor Petal, my column is nothing like the ‘advice’ columns in the Bangkok papers. To begin with, my columns are not from America, but are all home-grown. Believe the stupidity of some of the writers, DP, and just remember that you wrote in too! By the way, you really should brush up on your English. “There” indicates “place” while “their” indicates “possession”. However I am not one to harbor grudges, just attach your next letter to some fizz-water and chocs and I’ll make sure the editor publishes it. After correction for spelling mistakes.


Giant Pot Holes

Dear Chiangmai Mail

I’m writing to you about the recent floods which took place in Chiang Mai. The first time it happened was a bit sudden and most people didn’t have time to react since everything flooded in the night. But this time, people have actually learned something and it is nice to see that people stacked up sand bags in front of their homes and offices to prevent further damage caused by potential flooding. And talking to some I learnt that almost 2 million of these bags were provided by the mayor in city hall. Now, that’s what I call a positive approach.

What I am not impressed by, are all the holes which are in the roads that were flooded. Why isn’t anyone fixing those? If they fill up with water and one of those small, flimsy motorbikes drives through them, there will be a fairly severe accident. I just saw one this morning, two female university students with short skirts and as always no helmet, getting stuck in a pothole. Actually they went ‘flying’ and the bike got stuck. Lucky they were not seriously hurt.

I’m not in the construction business but I think there are ways to construct a road without those giant holes. Thank you for taking my concerns serious.

James Carson


All’s fine bar the noise

Dear Sir,

I have been living in this part of Santhitham for some 10 years. For most of this time it has been a peaceful residential area. However, recently a number of bars have opened nearby. The music doesn’t always stop at midnight. There are also the noises of street vendors plus the motorbikes and cars when they leave.

I know of another area by the municipal stadium where residents have had similar problems.

I would like to suggest an investigative article on noise pollution in the city and that it be forwarded to the mayor & local authority.
Yours faithfully,

Richard J Hudson