HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Getting another 30-day Visa

More digging on Tapae Road

Noise Pollution on Sundays and Mondays and Tuesdays…..

Getting another 30-day Visa

The Editor,

What I want to share with my fellow farangs is the experiences since my resignation from a position here — and in particular, the ‘entertainment’ portion of a long day on a bus to Cambodia.

First, I went to cancel my work permit, as that document states must be done within seven days of a resignation. At the Labor office, I was told to then proceed at once to Immigration, in order to have my existing visa canceled. There, I was told that I had seven days to exit the Kingdom. So I elected to fly to Singapore for a two day visit, and re-entered Thailand, receiving a 30 day tourist visa.

Upon the expiration of that visa, I chose to take a visa run by bus, from Sukhumvit Soi 12 to the Cambodian border, in the spirit of experimentation (I’d been to Myanmar and to Laos, so that was the next country, for the sake of variety, and also to minimize the expense, somewhat).

The ‘Jack Total Golf’ bus departed at exactly 7 a.m., and preliminary paperwork was completed just before that. The double-decker bus was comfortable and about half full of farangs. In addition to the usual selection of men ranging in age up to the senior years, the passengers included a husband and wife and their two youngsters (probably around 10 and 12).

The travel was smooth, and traffic was not congested, this being Saturday. The countryside was interesting. A movie was shown, and a rest stop occurred at the end of the movie, about two hours into the trip. Then a second movie was shown on the rest of the trip, and we arrived at the border at 11 a.m., where processing was rapid and efficient. Lunch was then obtained on the Cambodian side, included in the 2000 baht price of the excursion. Photos were not permitted in this restricted compound; all we saw of Cambodia was a few very unwashed urchins begging for alms.

On the way back, another cumulative four hours of bus travel, two more movies were offered. Of these four movies, one was, to me, very offensive in its grossness (it was something involving Deuce Bigalow). Its very foul language (and indeed, the entire story line was juvenile and vulgar) was a perfect example of the unfettered abandon that has taken over the once proud American movie industry. Doubtless someone will remark that such products are the price of freedom, but I submit that the bandying about of “freedom”, without the necessary responsibility, is one of the typical ills of today’s American scene. (Witness W’s bringing ‘freedom’ to Iraq, in an undeclared war that even he now admits was begun based on wrong intelligence — not to mention that the real terrorists were in Afghanistan, and their leader still has not been found.)

Probably the managers of this visa run service think that they’re doing a good thing by providing four American movies to the farangs on the bus, their customers. But I cannot help being rather insulted by the low-brow level of at least one of their selections, which to me represents one of the reasons that I am glad to be in Thailand — where I can get away from many of the most egregious American evils.

Kenneth P. Seidel

More digging on Tapae Road

Dear Editor,
I recall an article in a recent edition of Chiang Mai Mail lamenting the slow progress of road works on Tapae Road, and how it was affecting the business and the well-being of the local residents. They certainly were deserving of much sympathy for their long-suffering plight. Imagine my dismay at the sight that beholds us now on this important thoroughfare. The local authorities have now decided to rip up both sides of the footpath and deposit the rubble on the side of the road, thus ensuring maximum danger to pedestrians and motorists alike. There is no doubt that the pavements were in need of repair, but is it wise to dig up both sides at the same time? As it stands, pedestrians would need to climb over a 2 foot mound of rubble to find an even walkway, which is of course the busy Tapae road, and drivers now need to not only avoid the bumps and ditches of the road, but the mounds of rubble dumped alongside it. I’m sure your readers would be interested if one of your journalists were to take pictures of the current mess, and to hear the response of the authorities concerned.

Besides the harm to local residents and businesses, I am dismayed to see such a busy road, with its many important buildings and temples being disfigured in this way, at the start of the tourist high-season.

Concerned in Chiang Mai

Noise Pollution on Sundays and Mondays and Tuesdays…..

Dear Chiangmai Mail,

I’ve heard it said more than once that if you hand a Thai a microphone and an amplifier he or she will invariably find a statement to proclaim. Chiang Mai’s Sunday walking street provides ample (and amplified) proof of this. Having rid the street of one source of pollution (vehicles), the authorities open it up to another — noise. Loudspeakers up and down the street blare out totally superfluous descriptions of what’s to be seen and otherwise heard at the market. Are these announcements for the benefit of the blind, the deaf or the plain daft? On one of these Sundays a charming Lanna string trio tried gal-lantly to outperform a nearby loudspeaker, while a talen-ted folksinger just gave up
the fight to make herself heard.

At least these infernal machines are only at work on Sundays. When I lived in a Thai village the phoo yai ban woke us all up at six in the morning and sometimes earlier if he had a particularly long announcement to make over the public address system. “What’s he on about this time?” I asked my wife as decibels shook us from slumber one grey morning. “He’s telling us it’s a public holiday,” she said. “Well, thanks a lot,” I thought as I pulled back the covers. “I might have enjoyed it if he hadn’t told me.”

But wait — there’s hope yet. This morning as I crossed the road near my home a loudspeaker van at full volume pulled up at the traffic lights. I put my finger to my lips, smiled at the driver and then put a finger in each ear to make sure my silent message got across.

And would you believe it? He switched the ghastly thing off.

Jim Andrews