Chiang Mai FeMail
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Health and Fitness - Part 4

Commercial reality or commercial exploitation?

For lovers of ballet - La Bayadere and Peter Pan 2008!

OPINION

 

Hi, guys! Welcome to yet another FeMail page - we hope that those of you who have fled the city to avoid the both the heat and the water wars, (better known as the Songrkran festival), will read it online! The heat - yes, it’s hot! Extremely. As for the water wars, we have yet to see what effect the Mayor’s new plans for a more traditional, sober and peaceful Songkran will have on those who don’t want to be traditional, peaceful and sober! Personally we really do hope it works - we shall be in town in order to check it out. What a week - politicians and fortune-tellers - the famous one who’s caused all the fuss lives right here in CM. Ok, so most of us surreptitiously read our horoscopes, but we don’t run a country by them… maybe that’s where Blair and Bush got their “weapons of mass deception” from?
On a lighter and much pleasanter note, the Hillside 4 Charity Party committee have decided to start their events earlier this year - and, sensible people, to make them slightly more affordable as well! The first charity gathering will be on Sunday, April 27, and will take place at The House, starting at 6 pm. It’s a “Wine and Tapas” do, with tickets priced at 400 baht, and should be fun. A local wine company will also be in attendance, selling wine at very reasonable prices. If anyone is anticipating feeling seriously hungry, there is an option to book a table and stay on for a luxurious meal either at the House or at the Ginger Café; we understand that a percentage of these bookings will also be donated to the Charity Party Fund. All that’s left this week is to wish each and every one of our readers Sawasdee Pee Mai Muang - A very happy Songkran New Year!

Health and Fitness Part 4

John Bailey
As you will know from last week’s column, and hopefully from your own acquaintance with the machine since then, the treadmill is the most popular fitness machine in the gym! Fortunately, all the do’s and don’t’s which apply to it also apply to all the other machines as well, so at least you don’t have to read through them all again. One of two general points about the rest of the “kit” however, will be useful, so - read on!
The Rotex, most people’s favourite hate, is harder work than the treadmill, (and how!), but its one big advantage is that it’s non-percussive. When using it, there is no shock to your feet, ankles, knees, hips or spine, which tends to limit the damage from over-enthusiastic use. Most types have hand-held poles which move forward and back as the footplates revolve, simulating the motions of a cross-country skier. Which, of course, means that you upper body gets a work-out as well. Useful. If you like this machine, spend some time on it.
I would still not, at this stage in your training, recommend the Stepper, as it may well tire you too quickly, and also might create a problem with the knees, hips and lower back in an inexperienced user. You will need to increase your core strength more before you’re not at risk on this one.
Exercise Bikes come in two forms - sitting and reclining - you may use whichever you prefer. Remember, both types are non-load bearing; you are not supporting the weight of your own body. As a result you are making less actual effort, and will not burn calories as fast as on other machines. The reclining type is marginally more useful healthwise, as it has the advantage of promoting blood circulation because your legs are positioned at more or less the same level as your heart. Also, painful calves can be avoided in this position.
The Topex T machine involves, quite simply, cycling with your arms! Again, no load-bearing, purely an upper body work-out with good cardio-vascular effect. A useful regime would be to combine ten minutes treadmill, then a break, ten minutes Topex, break, then ten minutes exercise bike. Afterwards, cool down gently for five minutes or so and let your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal.
Although I have, surprisingly, not yet seen a rowing machine in gyms here in Chiang Mai, it is one of my favourites - if I could only work out on one machine, this would be it! It’s non-load bearing, yet using it will exercise every major muscle group in the body, and it also involves stretching and a really great, almost meditative rhythm. If you see one - buy one! Then let me know where you got it…
Of course, we all know that swimming is an amazing form of exercise, and even walking against the resistance of the water can be of great benefit. A qualified and experienced Water Aerobics teacher can be your body’s “best friend”, but again, I do not know of such a person here in Chiang Mai.
Just to sum up, all of the above machines are valid and important in a serious weight loss regime; the choice of combinations is yours, provided you exercise regularly. This regularity is first and foremost in importance. The amount of time that you spend, not too little and not too much, is also important, as is the amount of effort you put in and the type of exercise you choose.
For your regime to be effective, you should try to exercise 3-5 days per week, aiming to start with at least 20 minutes of actual work, which time you should build up to about an hour. Combined with this, you should also try to walk, maybe cycle, swim and, if you have a garden, work in it! The main purpose is to stay active in between your formal exercise sessions. It’s no use becoming a couch potato in between work-outs and expecting miracles from your regime! Next week - stretching, eating, and some more strategy! Have fun…

 

Commercial reality or commercial exploitation?

Tess Itura
We must all have heard about the Karen “long-neck” villages in the Chiang Mai area, a supposed Mecca for tourists who are insensitive enough not to recognise a human zoo when they hear about one. But how many of us know that there are other such places, in Mae Hong Son, for example? And are we aware that inhabitants of the Mae Hong Son camps have allegedly been prevented from leaving? Whatever the truth of their situation, it seems as though scant respect for these women’s human rights is being observed. Recently, a young “long-neck” girl told her tale.
She had escaped as a very young child, along with many thousands of others over the years, from the oppression and cruelty which is Burma, and had found a kind of home in a camp in Mae Hong Son, where she grew up. As she grew older, according to her tribe’s tradition, she continued to wrap her neck with the shining brass coils, thus pushing her shoulders and rib cage lower and lower and making her neck appear longer. Inadvertently, she also made herself a target for what many would call exploitation. Local village heads, realising the financial benefits of tourism, organised the refugees into areas where tourists could be brought to see the “giraffe women”, as they are insultingly referred to. Trade went both ways; the villagers sold supplies to the refugees, and also sold to the tourists, who were, of course, charged for their visits and for taking photographs. The refugees are supplied in return with rice, chilli and cooking oil, plus a very small monthly allowance. Profits to those involved are huge.
Several years ago, the New Zealand government offered a way out for the refugees - a new life, education, housing and citizenship. The girl in our story could not believe her luck, and, tragically, was right not to. Two years ago, she was ready and more than willing to go to her new life - until she found out that local government officials would not grant her, and others who desperately wished to leave, an exit visa. The unstated reason? Commercial reality. Without the long-necks, no tourists would come. Without the tourists, no revenue would be earned. Tens of thousands of dollars a year would be lost. Our girl, and others, took off their rings in protest. They were not given food or allowances as a result. Last year, two women ran away and came to one of the Chiang Mai villages, where at least they would have received a more generous allowance. Apparently, the two were arrested and taken back to the original camp in Mae Hong Son. Our girl and her family have given up hope - their places in New Zealand have been taken by others. They still have no land, no rights to social security, no freedom of movement, no education, and no way to change their situation for the better. Commercial reality, or commercial exploitation? Human rights? What do you think?


For lovers of ballet - La Bayadere and Peter Pan 2008!

We’re often accused of not giving enough advanced notice of interesting events - so, in reparation, here’s one for your calendar if you are a lover of the dance! Or maybe even an ex-dancer… The Chiang Mai Ballet Academy’s Performance Group will present their production of the late, great Russian choreographer Marius Petipa’s famous classical ballet “La Bayadere”, together with, (as a complete contrast), the dance version of the well loved story, “Peter Pan”, choreographed in modern ballet, jazz dance and contemporary dance styles. Sponsored by Thai Air, the performance will be held at the Kad Theatre on June 1, and will be presented in honour of His Majesty the King. There will be two performances, a matinee at 1:30 pm, and an evening show at 7 pm. Tickets will cost from 200 baht to 1,000 baht and proceeds will go to the Thai Red Cross in Chiang Mai and the Northern Mentally Retarded Welfare Centre, which is under the Royal patronage of Her Majesty the Queen.
Artists appearing will include first place winners of the 8th and 9th Asia Pacific Dance competition, 2006 and 2007, the 25th International Dance competition 2004, and the 28th International Dance competition 2007. Narat Kitvadhana, one of Thailand’s most famous classical singers, will also be taking part. The Artistic Director of the double bill is Mom Luang Preeyapun Sridhavat, winner in the Arts category of the prestigious Asia-Pacific Inspired Woman Award, 2002.


OPINION

Tess Itura
You may have read the report in last week’s CM Mail about the three Michelin-starred French chefs who boycotted a Bangkok hotel’s “10 course feast plus poverty tour”, in spite of the $8,000 fee offered for their services and the fact that diners were expected to donate large sums to alleviate the poverty in the Isaan village they were shown by executive jet before the meal. Whatever your opinion, the media scandal it has created in France highlights the fact that Thailand has one of the most unequal distributions of wealth in the entire world. Although the gap between the rich and the poor is most evident in Bangkok, you’d have to be blind not to see that it’s on the increase here in Chiang Mai. Newly built luxury hotels and resorts are still springing up like architecturally-designed mushrooms, all with hi-so eating places - as if CM doesn’t have enough of those already - and a casino is planned. Aimed, of course, at the wealthy tourists so beloved of the government, most of whom will spend only a few days in the city before they move on, if they come at all. Most of us can only afford the very occasional visit to these venues, in spite of their widely advertised special deals. Some of us may even feel slightly guilty when we do.
The reality in this city is that food prices are rising fast, the poor are getting poorer, the numbers of the destitute are growing, and the contrast is becoming more obvious. What is amazing about this situation is that it seems to cause little resentment or social tension, a lack of reaction difficult for Westerners to understand. Maybe this is due to the hierarchal structure in the Kingdom, maybe to Buddhist concepts of fate and karma. Whatever the reason, it’s also obvious there is very little we, as farangs can do about it, however much it disturbs or affects us. But, maybe, when we decide to treat ourselves to some luxury, even for just one evening, we could set aside the equivalent of the cost and donate that sum to a small charity which does its best to care for those at the very bottom of the multi-layered Chiang Mai heap!