- HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Life happens - an update
Health, Fitness and Weight Loss
Welcome to this week’s Femail page! Not much space left for the
intro, so - a couple of timely reminders and a very interesting
quote! Reminder one - The Chiang Mai Ballet Academy’s annual
performance takes place this Sunday at Kad Theatre, Kad Suan Kaew at
1:30 and 7 pm, featuring two ballets, the classical La Bayadere and
the jazz/modern Peter Pan 2008. We’ve seen the rehearsals - it’s
going to be an unmissable treat for those who’re into the Dance!
Reminder 2 - our very own Judy Harcourt’s plea on this page for YOUR
questions - so that we can all have fun rushing about finding YOUR
answers! The guys have “Dear Hillary” (!), it’s about time we had
our own Q&A as well, don’t you think?
Now for the interesting quote - “Last week, Dr Arthur Robinson, of
the University of Oregon, announced to a packed press conference in
Washington that 31,000 scientists (yes, 31,000!!!) had signed an
online petition challenging the conventional; wisdom that global
warming is being caused by man-made CO2 emissions. He said that he
was aware that critics would claim that the list was phoney, but
emphasised that all signatories had been carefully vetted, and that
at least 9,000 had legitimate Ph Ds.” OK, global warming may well be
happening, but isn’t it slightly egotistical of the human race to
assume that we can actually wreck a millions of years’ old system
that we, as yet, still don’t really understand? And that, even if we
could, anything we could do to reverse the process would do any
good? Save the planet? Hardly. Save our own thoughtless,
acquisitive, greedy, power - hungry use of nature for our own ends -
sounds more like it!
A message from our favourite frazzled farang lady, Judy Harcourt
“Hey, all you other Farang ladies!! We are hoping to start a column of
questions and observations by ‘ladies’, (I use the term loosely) in Chiang
Mai!! Address your questions of interest on any aspect of living in Chiang
Mai, and our panel of experts will try to answer them!! Let’s hear from
you…Send your emails to [email protected]”
Life happens - an update
Over the last two weeks’ issues, we have chronicled the amazing efforts made
on behalf of the victims of Nargis by two young Canadian short-term visitors
to our city.
Unfortunately, as they were due to leave, having raised $13,547 and
organised its distribution in the Irrawaddy Delta through the Shelterbox UK
registered charity, Kelly contracted a nasty dose of Dengue Fever; as a
result they are now on medically extended tourist visas, staying in Chiang
Mai Ram and hoping that Kelly will be well enough for their revised
departure date of June 5. Apart from the practical difficulties this has
caused, their allocated finances for this part of their trip are now in
ruins! We received this email last Wednesday - it seems a timely reminder
about the real Chiang Mai and its people. We thank these two wonderful
people for what they have done, and wish them an onward journey full of
delight and happiness. They deserve it!
“Until recently, travelers from all over have hailed Thailand as one of the
friendliest places in the world. However, I have received increasing reports
that Thailand’s tourism industry is eating away at the friendly nature of
the people and the land. And our first few days in Thailand (sadly in
Bangkok) did nothing but perpetuate the sense that Thailand has fallen way
off the friendly-scale. Once in Chiang Mai, though, we saw another side to
the story. And now - I get it!
When we decided to do whatever we could to help the victims in Burma, we
approached the owner of the internet café we had already spent some time at.
We asked him if he knew where we could rent a truck. Immediately, we were
introduced to a friend who has a truck, and who would be willing to drive
with us to the Thai/Burma border to drop off the supplies. He would not
charge us for gas or usage… instead his biggest expense is time. So we would
pay him by the day, which was sure to be a fraction of the cost to rent. But
the café owner, TJ, didn’t stop there. When he discovered we are Rotarians,
he exclaimed “My father used to be a Rotarian! I can call the president of
the Chiang Mai Rotary club. He is a very powerful man, and he can help you,”
and “off to the races we went!”
But hold your applause - there’s more. He then proceeded to chauffeur us all
over the city of Chiang Mai; to Rotary meetings, to the mall for supplies,
and on various errands. If we ever suggested that we would take a taxi and
spare him, he became angry with us. And on the few occasions when he
couldn’t drop everything to drive us somewhere, he got one of his employees
to take on the task.
And so, a relationship developed over the following two weeks of our
fundraising and aid relief efforts for the victims of Cyclone Nargis in
Burma. TJ spoke very good English and served as a translator for us more
than once. We met his beautiful wife and daughter, and visited the gift shop
that his wife owns and operates. Now, both TJ and Ou visit Kelly & I daily
at the hospital. They bring us fruit, good company, and just today they gave
us a bag full of gifts that they were going to give us when we left, which
was supposed to be last week. TJ continues to drive me anywhere I need to
go, and scolded Kelly yesterday for letting me go to the train station by
myself to cancel our tickets instead of calling him to pick me up and take
TJ, like many Thai people we met, is a very modest and humble person. Before
taking us to some of the Rotary meetings, knowing he would be in the company
of big business owners, he told us that he doesn’t belong. “I’ll just wait
in the car,” he said.
“No, you absolutely won’t!” we said. “We need you in there to help us
communicate, and besides - you are embracing the meaning of Rotary with your
generosity and dedication to a good cause! You do belong.” Once in the
meetings, he was astonished to discover that these people enjoyed talking to
him. “That man,” he said one day, pointing with a shaking finger to a fellow
who had made efforts to chat with him “is the CEO for one of the biggest
computer companies in the city. He is a famous man. A powerful man. And he
wanted to speak to me! And he is so nice! Look - the hairs are standing up
on my arm from being in his presence!” he exclaimed, flush in the face and
clutching the man’s business card.
Is it this unassuming and modest nature, (even in the big business people),
that gives the Thai people such charm? There is true respect in their
greetings and wais, and never a desire to step on anybody’s toes. Generosity
is extended in whatever way possible. And always, even if a stranger passing
on the street - a big smile in return if you have one on your own face.
Quite frankly, the expats we have met stand out garishly in comparison,
despite how nice or genuine they try to be. Try as these expats may, the
gentle nature of the Thai people we have met is as yet unmatched. We believe
that had we not embraced the Burma relief efforts in the way we did, we
would not have experienced this level of Thai hospitality - the kind that
people say is dead. And the Thai friendliness we saw extends way beyond the
efforts of TJ and Ou. Members of the various Chiang Mai Rotary Clubs offered
their individual help to us in a variety of ways, from establishing
contacts, to donating money, to the efforts of Thitiphan - the Rotary
president TJ spoke of, who was a real leader for us in helping the woman who
has washed our laundry a few times gives me a big hug whenever I come by.
For no reason at all, she hugs me and giggles. She is hands down one of the
sweetest people I have ever met, and we can hardly even have a conversation
with the language barriers.
TJ & Ou have been our Thai family, supporting us through some very tough
times in every way possible, in the absence of our own families who are so
far away. And of course when we told them this, they simply blushed,
laughed, looked away coyly, and tried to find yet another way to help us. As
only a modest and generous Thai person would do. Who says Thai hospitality
is dead? Somebody who either never left Bangkok, or who didn’t stop long
enough to see what the place is all about. Take a side step off the tourist
bandwagon in Thailand, and you may find something you never anticipated.
True friendships and genuine hospitality.
and Weight Loss
The weight you carry versus
the weight you lift!
Consider this - you are heavier than the weight you were designed to
carry… therefore your whole body is under stress and out of the balance
intended by nature! Your leg muscles are over-developed in order to support
your weight, and your upper body muscles may well have deteriorated due to
lack of use. Prolonged and regular cardio-vascular exercise will eventually
get your weight down, but you will still be left with reduced muscle fibre
in your upper body. Any activity employing the upper body muscles is,
obviously, helpful, but the specific use of weights is the most effective
manner to deal with this problem. And, remember, fitter muscles burn more
For this to be really effective, you will need a gym instructor who knows
his/her stuff, as I can only generalise in a brief article. There are, in
any well-equipped gym, machines which are designed to mimic free-weight
exercises; these you should use, but do remember that they have their
limitations as your body will be following the actions of the machine and
everyone is built differently. Also, you will probably be sitting on the
machine, and will therefore not be employing all of your core strength
muscles to stabilise yourself. These machines are a great way to get you
started, but try to move on to free weights when possible.
Free weights allow your body to follow its natural line of motion and,
whether you are standing or sitting, they force you to stabilise yourself
using your core strength. This will result in a good posture and real
strength in the areas of the abdomen and lower back. Whether you are using a
machine or free weights, the following will apply. Use 65-75% of your 1 rep
maximum weight; start with 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps; don’t pause for more than
about 1 minute between sets. Increase the reps to 20-25 before you even
think about increasing the actual weight, and don’t struggle - if you start
to lose your posture, decrease the weight and start again. Always exercise
the largest muscle group first; always, always breath out on effort;
practice any given exercise first with a very light weight and build
steadily and gradually. Enjoy, and don’t forget to stretch after you finish
As for diet, in a sense, DON’T! Eat moderately and sensibly; stay away from
simple carbohydrates such as sugar, avoid animal fats, cheese, butter, fatty
meats, etc. Eat little and often (like the Thais do!) when your body tells
you to, and, especially in this climate, drink plenty of water. Lastly, and
most importantly, don’t expect miracles -your body needs time to adjust and
respond to your new regime. Results may not be always be immediately
obvious, but if you keep going you’ll find that it’s all worth it!
We noted last week, in the UK Sunday Times, no less, an article related to
the recent opening of what was described as a “Human Zoo” in Pattaya,
featuring members of the Kayan sub-branch of the Karenni peoples, known
colloquially and less than respectfully as the “long-necks” or, even worse,
the “giraffe women”. Tourists who used to have to visit Chiang Mai or Mae
Hong Son to view these dubious delights can now access them by taxi from
Bangkok, or by an even shorter journey from Pattaya itself. A representative
of the local administration is reported to have dismissed accusations of
exploitation; and is said to have remarked that to be in the so-called
“village” is better than starving to death.
So, that’s the choice for tribespeople who wish to retain their ancestral
customs - to be gawped at by tourists with doubtful motivations in exchange
for a few baht per month and a rice allowance; to return and face death in
their home country, or to be imprisoned in refugee camps with no respect for
either their human rights or their customs and traditions.
There is an argument which states that if tourists do visit these villages
and buy the plastic-wrapped factory-made “ethnic crafts” on offer, at least
the women receive a percentage of total sales with which to supplement their
meagre allowances. This, however, does not convince, and depends on the
“generosity” of the entrepreneurs who organise these tourist traps for their
own profit on the backs of refugees from an evil empire, that of the Burmese
junta. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has its own concerns
about the situation, but, because these people have no rights in law, they
are dependent on tourists to live - take away the tourism and they starve.
Pressure is needed to persuade the Thai government either to grant them
citizenship or allow them to resettle overseas. The existence of such
“villages” is a stain on the reputation of the country in which they exist.
Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
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