To the Editor
After experiencing two years living in Chiang Mai as a retiree, it has
become abundantly clear to me that if farang are to enjoy a happy lifestyle
here, it is necessary to adapt to the country’s culture and its peoples.
Accepting Thais as equals is the first step on the road to a better quality
of life. Sadly too often farang alienate themselves by displaying appalling
lack of respect and aggressive bad manners. The most sickening aspect of
their general attitude is the perpetual negative criticism directed at so
many things that are charmingly Thai and make this country so different from
the West. Whilst it is acceptable in our own countries to adopt an
in-your-face style of addressing complaints, it is deeply offensive to Thais
to have this meted out to them. Rather adopt a conciliatory approach with a
few pleasantries in the Thai language - surely this is not too difficult -
and always smile. Whatever your problem, Thais will happily try to meet you
half way if you just respect their ways. In the interests of Thai - Farang
relations let us try to pull together. If we witness bad behaviour from one
of our own, we should intervene to correct the situation as Thais are too
polite to challenge unacceptable conduct. Always remember that we are guests
in this country.
Beware your VISA Card!
On or about 12 August, my VISA/ATM card, issued by Bangkok Bank, was stolen.
During the next seven days, this card was used by the thief to make 22
separate purchases from various merchants in Chiang Mai, the cost of which
were debited to my savings account at the Bank in the amount of 75,092.25
baht, thereby depleting the account except for a residue of 106.66 baht.
As incredible as these facts are, I assure you that they are absolutely
true, and that I will be able to furnish, in these pages, any details that
may be requested by any of your readers. Or they may be verified by
contacting the manager of the Kad Suan Kaew branch of the Bangkok Bank.
I was lucky. The police quickly apprehended the thief and recovered some of
the merchandise that he purchased, which they have now turned over to me.
The thief also made a cash payment to me of 10,000 baht. But the resale
value of the merchandise on the second-hand market, together with the cash
payment, have an estimated cash value of only about 45,000 baht, leaving me
with a loss of over 30,000 baht.
The branch manager of the Bank has told me that the Bank denies any
responsibility for restitution of the money that I deposited there for
safekeeping. She advises that I should take the matter up with the various
merchants involved - a practically useless suggestion, as the only
documentation that I have of the individual sales is the series of debits as
recorded in my account passbook.
Surely enough, I was careless in forgetting my card in the ATM machine or
letting it be stolen from my wallet. Aside from being more careful about my
card, there appears to be nothing in the banking system here to safeguard
one’s savings account with an associated VISA card.
Indeed, I was doubly lucky. The thief could have bought gold, then sold it
back to the shop, and then could have destroyed the card. Had he been a
little less greedy, and a little less stupid, he could have ended his
spending spree with a pocket-full of cash, and little chance of apprehension
- all at my expense.
My savings would have been safer kept in a sock under the mattress of my
Very truly yours,