Vol. VII No. 19 - Tuesday
May 6 - May 12, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Chiang Mai FeMail
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

“What’s the Mutter”?

Frazzled Farang Lady and the Lucky Daw

Fitness, Health and Weight Loss

OPINION

 

Welcome to yet another Femail page! It’s raining, what a relief…. It seems that the rainy season is starting early this year, after the hottest and most uncomfortable April in a long time. Result - brighter gardens, cooler nights, less frazzled tempers, and no more 2 am tuneless karaoke at mega-decibels! What a relief, indeed.
We thought we should mention again an upcoming event which sounds great fun - the Soroptimists’ spectacular “Respect-Taking Action in Style” fashion show event, which is due to take place in the Empress Hotel’s Convention Centre on May 17, starting at 6 pm. This unique fundraising event will present the creations of renowned fashion designer Tananan Willson, who is also sponsoring the event. The models will be expertly coiffured by master stylist and sponsor, Wit Boonma of Hair Pro., and the entire evening will be coordinated by virtuoso and sponsor, Ongkarn Chaiongkarn, better known as Jojo, of Man Muang Chamber Co. Ltd. Soroptimist International Chiang Mai is delighted to feature several “celeb” models that will be gracing the catwalk, in addition to a cast of very gracious Chiang Mai “movers and shakers”. One very special Chiang Mai couple will be showcasing Tananan Willson’s unique creations, but you’ll have to buy a ticket to find out more! The beneficiaries of the event will be the Soroptimists’ “Single Mothers Project”, which aims to help women in that unfortunate situation, (including the women at Wildflower Home), by covering their medical expenses and those of their children. This is an event we should all support - even although there are so many “good causes” around at present, and money may be ever so slightly tight. Tickets cost 900 baht, and include an International Buffet Dinner, a Silent Auction, entertainment and a Lucky Draw. Prizes include two round-trip tickets to Bangkok donated by Bangkok Airways. Ticket sales locations: are Hair Pro, (053 418 080), Classic Touch, (053 278 325 or 081 881 9226), Hillside Plaza and Condotel 4 Reception, (089 557 5388), Café Pandau (085 715 3787), and Spa de Siam, (086 911 1158). For additional information, contact Maureen at 081 025 6222 [email protected] Hope to see you there!

“What’s the Mutter”?

Muttering Mike
I come from the land of “down-under”, where one expects to be assailed by four-letter expletives exploding from the lips of building-site artisans as they encounter frustrations such as something not quite fitting and 7mm.out at the other end!
I concede that I am generalising and hasten to apologise to the few, (very few), who refrain from these colourful outbursts. I also acknowledge that the standard of workmanship produced by Australian artisans is exceptionally high and that the loud eruptions of profanity and vulgarity might, indeed, contribute, in some degree, to that high standard…
That has been the sum total of my experience and observation of gangs of artisans - up until recently.
These days, I live permanently in Chiang Mai, and the major re-construction of my condo is almost complete. During its progress, I was amazed to be able to experience and observe a style of construction-site behaviour completely new to me! The Thai artisan does not swear, does not shout, and does not display anger or frustration. In fact, he and/or she works almost in silence - apart from the occasional refrain from some Thai song.
Probably the most precise and demanding work is that of the cabinet-maker and his team where millimetres mean everything and the rise of a wall, off vertical, can be extremely challenging - and yet … the craftsman will, on encountering such a difficulty, step back, survey the situation, ponder it, talk to himself in a low voice, (I think that’s “muttering”), and without any trace of anger or frustration, devise and implement a solution.
Observing this behaviour has really been a refreshing and edifying experience and adopting the same attitude myself has helped me get through some of the frustrations that I have experienced in trying to communicate my instructions! We live and we learn! Maybe the world would be a better place if we all “muttered”!

 

Frazzled Farang Lady and the Lucky Daw

J Harcourt
Problem was, my SIM card died in my cell phone. Bigger problem was, I wanted the same number. Now I was on another level of pursuit. I had to find the AIS office. I wanted the OFFICIAL office that would renew my card, and let me keep my number.
A problem like this is not too serious when you are in your home country. However, in Thailand, you suddenly think, “This is going to be HARD!” In pursuit of the AIS office, I spent an hour walking up and down the street, with helpful people sending me in different directions. I even had a guy tell me he WAS the AIS office, which left me puzzled, because he was also selling washing machines.
Finally, the office appeared. It is large and new. Inside is a huge marble lobby, first class. In the air conditioned environment, a smartly uniformed young man asked my purpose for the visit. He then officially punched a button, et voilà... I received a tag with a number. He motioned for me to sit in front of several windows with numbers. I sat. I assumed I was waiting, like at the bank. One should NEVER assume. The progression of people being helped didn’t seem to have a pattern. Then I discovered three more windows around the corner. I tried to oversee all the windows, by getting up occasionally and looking around the corner.
The fabulous upside of this dilemma was that they served very good cookies and punch. Cookies always give me more patience. They also provided newspapers - in English! What more could I wish for! I waited and waited, and after 40 minutes of being confused and forgotten, depression began setting in. Of course, by that time I had eaten too many cookies, and drunk 2 cups of juice: SUGAR HIGH! I was also fighting the urge to go back for even MORE cookies, but hesitated. I am always afraid that someone is watching, usually a tiny Thai lady, thinking, “Boy, can that farang lady put away the cookies!”
I waited more. I was beginning to think, “Why do I live in a country where I don’t speak the language? Why don’t I LEARN this language? What’s the matter with me, to expect to understand what is going on, when I don’t spend enough time studying! Why don’t I understand the system here! EVERYTHING is difficult, and I bring it on myself” As I sat and pondered my personal failings, a tiny hand gently tapped me on my shoulder. The lovely Thai girl, in her size 00 business skirt, led me to her office. The location was nowhere near the numbered windows that I had been watching for an hour. She efficiently entered my information in her computer, and suddenly, I had a new SIM card. I asked how much. She said, “Oh is nothing, you come to office, it is no money!” My day was beginning to look up!
When we were through, she stood up, and said, with great excitement, “Oh! Now you have Lucky Daw! Wondering what a Daw was, I followed her obediently into the lobby. She led me to a table with various prizes on it. I drew a ticket from a bowl. She clapped her hands in an excited manner, and handed me a package containing four plastic things in primary colors. I had NO idea what they were, and said something original like “OH!” Then she said, “For cold drink to sit on!” I said, “Oh, COASTERS, I love them!” We both jumped up and down with enthusiasm. The uniformed man thanked me for coming in, and opened the door for my official exit from the world of AIS.
Emerging from the air conditioning into the sunshine of Chiang Mai, I smiled, with a lingering taste of cookies in my mouth. In my purse was a new SIM card and a set of coasters in primary colors. In my heart was the knowledge that no matter how confusing it gets here, Thailand wins you back with charm and smiles, and now and then, a Lucky Daw.


Fitness, Health and Weight Loss

John Bailey
Following last week’s “starter” on using weights, it seemed a good idea to give some more technical information in this week’s article. So, here goes:
There are basically two types of muscle fibre, firstly “white fast twitch fibre”, which supports hard contractions for short periods of time while lifting heavy weights, (anaerobic), and secondly, “red slow twitch fibre”, which supports contractions for longer periods and is fuelled by oxygen, (aerobic). Obviously, both types are used in daily activity, but we can increase stimulation of either type by increasing the appropriate activity aerobically by, say, running rather than walking, and anaerobically by lifting a heavier than usual weight. It is logical to say that a combination of the two will be of the greatest benefit, especially with weight loss, as, if you remember, we are looking to burn calories as efficiently as possible. To this end, you should follow a programme.
The problem, unfortunately, with this, is finding someone here in Chiang Mai who is qualified to give practical help, and who is English-speaking. In these articles, I can only advise. If you do find someone, here are some questions you should ask. Whether you should proceed or not will depend on the answers. Firstly, you should state that you wish to lose weight, and to improve your fitness levels - how long should this take? The answer should be a time range of between six months and one year. Ask to be shown around the facility and the equipment, the use and benefit of which should be fully explained to you. If it is not, think twice. Thirdly, and most importantly, ask what would be the correct recommendations for you as regards a combination of exercise therapy and diet. At this point, remember F.I.T.T. - fitness, intensity, time and type. If this concept is not understood, go elsewhere!
Most gyms have a satisfactory range of modern equipment, but do you feel comfortable in the one you have chosen? Does it feel “right”? And I don’t mean, “does it look pretty”, or even “pretty impressive”? Lastly, are all the facilities, machines etc, clean and well maintained? Even if you are truly serious about your exercise regime, there will be times when you just don’t feel like going, and anything at your chosen gym with which you don’t feel comfortable will give you the prefect excuse to stay at home! Motivation… Following an ongoing programme should become second nature to you within your weekly plan - a good motivation technique is to think of reasons why you should go, rather than the opposite. Get it?


OPINION: Are our kids the hope for the future?

Since I began writing for this paper, (and reading it!), I’ve become much more aware of many things, good and bad, which take place here in Chiang Mai. That, I guess, is one of the aims and objectives of a local paper… Something which has impressed me greatly, particularly when I remember the “dumbed down” state of even the better schools in the UK, is the variety of organised events for students at the various international schools in the city, all of which seem to be focused on major social concerns, both here and worldwide. This week, you will read a report of a “Model United Nations” conference which took place recently at Chiang Mai International School, the topic of which was “‘Ethnic Minorities and Indigenous Peoples”, and included discussions on Kurdish independence, Kosovo, the Basque region, Palestine, Darfur and civil rights for indigenous peoples. Previous reports in this paper included charity events undertaken to help and support Hill Tribe schools, and many other happenings which create awareness in young people of the divisive world in which we, sadly, live.
In our home countries, the quote “our children are our future”, has been widely used for many years by various politicians; the colloquial name for such utterances, being, of course, “spin”. Here, though, it seems different. It’s the kids themselves who are being strongly encouraged to look at the world, at both its good and bad points, and, rather than shrugging their shoulders and hitting the game console as is mostly the case in the West, they seem to be realising that they may well be able, as adults, to make positive changes. Foreign kids here, of course, start with a major advantage, that of living in a totally different culture and society than that into which they were born. Young people also seem to see issues in a far more direct and objective manner than adults, perhaps because their view of the world is untainted by years of so-called “life experience”. With the compassionate and objective education they seem to be getting at the international schools, there may yet be some hope for the future, at least in their own adult spheres of influence.



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