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”?
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
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
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,
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
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.