Welcome to this week’s FeMail! I guess this issue’s “thought for the
week” should be “we’re not alone” as immigrants into the Lanna
region, as, for at least one thousand years, others have come before
us, from many different regions and countries! All have been able to
integrate to a greater or, (sadly, in the case of minority groups
from Burma), lesser degree, and all have contributed to this unique
Lanna culture. However, one aspect of Western culture we, as the
latest wave of immigrants, should definitely not be contributing is
an eating pattern which leaves us vulnerable to overweight and
obesity! Hope you all agree, and if you maybe a have a slight
problem with this yourself, we’d like to refer you to new series of
articles by a professional in the field of medical referral health
and fitness which will be published on this page over the next few
weeks. The emphasis will be on preventing and improving health
problems either caused by overweight or which are already in
existence and can be improved by exercise. And you’ll lose weight as
well, if that’s your goal. So, we’re “not alone” in that either!
Have a good week, and, Rose, watch out for those Banana Splits!
Mai Soong Pee Tai! Shan New Year
celebrations in Chiang Mai
Mai Soong Pee Tai - New Year celebrations in the
I often wonder how many of us, as incomers to Chiang Mai, realise that the
northern Lanna area of Thailand has been, over the last several thousand
years, as much of a melting pot of different races as London or New York? We
are simply the latest in a long line of settlers in this beautiful and
fascinating area of South East Asia. One of the earliest groups of
immigrants, the Tai peoples, began to arrive in the 11th century a.d. from
their homelands in mainland China, situated between the Hwangho and Yangtse
rivers, and are thought to have previously originated as a branch of the
Sino-Tibetan family known as Zhuang Dong. They settled in southern China,
Vietnam, northern Laos, the Assam area of India, and the “Shan “states in
Burma. Here in Thailand they formed “petty states” amongst the local tribes
in many areas, including those dominated by the Mon and Khmer civilisations.
Some historians consider them to be the founders of the Thai peoples, and
one amazing fact is that over 80 million people in South East Asia speak
some version of the original Tai language! And, of course, awareness of
their heritage continues today, particularly amongst the displaced Burmese
Tai, (Shan), peoples here in Chiang Mai.
This heritage includes, of course, the Tai, (Shan), New Year celebrations
which were held last Saturday in the city - a somewhat quieter affair than
either the Thai or Western New Year celebrations, but just as significant.
Confusion as to which actual calendar is used might account for the fact
that this festival seems to be held at different times in different places
worldwide! Tai peoples traditionally make merit by visiting their local Wat
at New Year, and, of course, by holding celebrations including traditional
songs, dances , costumes and parties, both in their homes and in the
community. Last Saturday’s celebrations were enjoyed by people from other
ethnic minorities in Burma as well as by Tai migrants from the Shan States.
The date of the festival coincided with the Tabaung Full Moon day on March
21, which occurs in the last month of the Burmese calendar at a time when,
traditionally, the harvest is safely home.
At the start of the festival, alms were offered to monks; then the
celebrations began, and continued late into the night. This year, there
seemed to be more focus on traditional music, drums, and dances than
previously, with whole families - fathers, uncles and even grandfathers -
dancing with their brightly dressed children and grandchildren perched on
their shoulders. There seemed to be a disproportionately high police
presence with very little to do except watch, as the festival passed largely
without incident. Most people were happy to be on their best behaviour, and
were simply enjoying the party! Mai Soong Pee Tai - Happy Tai New Year -
from all of us to all of them!
CM International School presents “Into the Woods”
The Stephen Sondheim musical “Into the Woods” will have its latest outing
this coming weekend, March 28/29, performed by members of the CM
International School. The chosen venue is the Kad Theatre within the Central
complex at Kad Suan Kaew, with two performances on each of the two days, at
10.30 am and 7 pm. The musical itself was first performed on Broadway in
1987, and has a charming story about a couple who try to reverse a curse
which is preventing them from having a child. Several familiar themes from
fairy tales such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood are included; the
musical score is vintage Sondheim, and, unsurprisingly, won three Tony
awards. Tickets are available from Kad Suan Kaew, and cost 200 baht for
adults and 100 baht for students. For availability, please call 053 306 152.
Health, Fitness and Weight Loss - it’s not just boring old diets and treadmills!
Weight loss - a major commercial industry in the West these days
- and I do mean commercial! Follow this diet - take these recommended
supplements- spend just 5 minutes a day on our new, fantastic and very
pricey piece of exercise kit - you’ll lose pounds in days! Yeah, right.
And don’t we all wish it was that simple! OK, some theories attached to
the “soft sell” adverts do have their uses, but only as pieces of a much
bigger jigsaw puzzle.
In an article by Dr Ian Corness in a recent edition of this paper, it
was powerfully pointed out that being overweight, (or, worse still,
actually obese), has serious implications. So, what do you do about it,
and how do you get rid of that fat, especially if you are, dare I
mention, getting older! The bottom line is that, if you consume more
calories than you burn during a day’s activity, (or lack of it.), you
gain weight. If the ratio goes the other way, you lose weight. End of.
Or is it? Behind that simple statement lies a whole philosophy of diet
and exercise - yes, I did mention exercise - which in itself can be
quantified by an easy to remember acronym - FITT. Frequency, Intensity,
Time, Type. The one even more important word in this concept doesn’t
begin with “F”, it’s MOTIVATION! In the next few weeks I shall be
writing a short series of articles addressing this modern-day plague,
and how to recover from it! No, I am not a doctor - in my life in the
West I was the guy your doctor referred you to when it became apparent
that your size was affecting your health and physical condition. Also
when you’d had a heart bypass, broken bones, were in the early stages of
diabetes, or had just received a very scary blood pressure reading,(all
of which conditions can be vastly improved by correctly prescribed
exercise techniques) and so on, but that’s another story. Guys like me
are called “Medical referral health and fitness consultants”, for
obvious reasons. Hopefully, I can provide some answers for those who
want to take their weight and their health seriously enough to use the
“M” word - motivation! And it can be fun as well - yes, Madam, you can
pump iron at 65 years old without doing yourself damage should you so
wish! Provided you know what you’re doing… Next week - the basic facts
about exercise and its effect on your general health and fitness levels
as well as your weight. In the meantime, try a daily swim - it can work
A gap in generations?
Having just received this amusing story, told at a very exclusive dinner
party, from friends in the UK, we thought you might like it too…
A somewhat egoistic young man in his first year at the London School of
Economics found himself sitting next to a senior citizen at a rather
unexciting Chelsea Football Club match. Eager to impress the older
generation, the student proceeded to regale his unfortunate neighbour
with his theory of the reasons behind the inability of his parents’
generation to understand the “youth of today”.
Part of his totally unwanted and unappreciated dissertation was focussed
on the fact that he believed that people of his parents’ age and older
had grown up in a world which today’s young people considered as
primitive. “I and my contemporaries” he stated, “grew up with
television, air travel, space travel, moon walking, space missions to
Mars, nuclear energy, computers and the internet, light-speed processing
and…” here he paused to take another gulp of his designer lager.
Taking advantage of the break in the flow, the senior citizen replied,
“You’re absolutely correct, my boy, we were not able to enjoy all those
things when we were your age” - slight pause - “so we invented them!
Now, you arrogant little s**t, what are you going to do for the next
generation?” Was that, or was that not, a truly stunning “senior
At which point, Chelsea scored a goal, thus removing the need for any