Vol. IX No. 5 - Tuesday
February 2 - February 8, 2010



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Updated every Tuesday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Care for Dogs

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Money Matters

Life in Chiang Mai

Let's Go To The Movies

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

Bridge in Paradise

MAIL OPINION

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

House calls - a thing of the past?

Have you ever stopped to wonder why western doctors don’t want to do house calls any more? After all, part of the job of being a GP is to service the patients in their homes. While GP’s would prefer the patients to come to the clinics, there are times when the patient is just too sick to come, or too old or infirm. House calls (or ‘hotel’ calls) will always be necessary. However, house calls are probably the most dangerous part of being a medico.
In Australia, one of the authoritative medical publications ran a survey to see how dangerous home visits can be. 21 percent of GPs said they or their staff have to deal with violent patients every week. One GP in 12 has been physically attacked, and 14 percent have been directly threatened with physical violence.
The usual causes for the aggression towards the doctors include refusal to prescribe a requested drug (mentioned by 68 percent of doctors), the patient being affected by drugs or alcohol (53 percent) and long waiting times (51 percent).
So is Australia the haven for drunken, drug addicted patients with a short fuse? The answer is not totally, as this problem is the same all over the western world. I can remember 35 years ago having to do a weekly house call to a very disturbed individual in the UK. This person, according to local knowledge, had murdered the previous doctor I was standing in for, but the police did not have enough evidence to file charges. I used to wave my stethoscope around the door while calling out “It’s the doctor,” while being ready to run!
The article mentioned a Sydney GP who had been chased by a machete wielding patient. Frightening, but undoubtedly true. Once again, I have had my fair share of these undeserving patients. One Xmas Day I was called to a local factory, where a patient, sporting a machete, was walking around looking for, and threatening to kill, the plant manager. Rather than call the police, they called me, because he was my patient and it would have been bad publicity! I managed to settle the chap, get his machete, and then called the police!
From the patient’s point of view, there are many problems too. If the sick person has no regular GP, he or she may find that most GP’s will refuse to come. From the doctor’s point of view, it is enough of a risk with the ‘regular’ patients, but to go to places you don’t know to see people you don’t know is certainly putting your head in the lion’s mouth.
What has happened is that the GP’s would rather contract another doctor, or group of doctors, to do these dangerous house calls for them. This makes sense in many ways. The doctor you get at 3 a.m. has been asleep all day and is (reasonably) alert, while your own GP, who has been seeing patients all day is (certainly) not at his best.
Many doctors team up with others in the practice, or neighborhood, to do the house calls on a rotational basis. This was how my practice handled the after hours work, but each year the after hours duties became more dangerous.
As the problems began to escalate, I began to take my (then) medical student son with me on house calls. The fact that he was 6’6" tall was comforting. He enjoyed the additional medical experience he was receiving, and when we were asked to make a house call to the local house of ill repute, he learned some other lessons about ‘life’ as well. House calls can sometimes be fun too!
Mind you, it is a little different in Thailand, or at my hospital at least. Requests for house calls are taken by the staff and an ambulance is quickly dispatched, complete with driver, doctor and nurse. This is good - safety in numbers if nothing else, but it also means that if the patient requires transport to the hospital, there is no waiting for an ambulance. It is there already, with a crew and waiting.
Medical care in Thailand is often superior to the West.

 

Care for Dogs: By Ana Gracey, Care for Dogs

Dog of the Week – Pink

Pink

Many of our volunteers at Care for Dogs have a soft spot for this special 3 year old and would love to see her happy in the right home. Pink has a nervous disposition and is very wary of strangers. She will shy away if you approach her directly but after a while, maybe a few hours, maybe a few days, you will suddenly find her right next to you asking for affection. At that point you have a friend for life who will be loyal and loving to her dying breath. If you have the patience you may be lucky enough to find your match in Pink. Contact Care for Dogs, English (08 47 52 52 55) Thai (08 69 13 87 01) or e-mail: @carefordogs.org to make an appointment to meet her at the shelter. http://www.carefordogs.org.


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hilary (sic),
I have regretfully heard many farangs talk in disparaging terms about Thai ladies and thought it was time someone put the record straight.
My own lovely Nok, who was a cashier in a beer bar when I met her has, despite suffering many family misfortunes in the past two years, retained her positive and happy attitude to life. During this time three of her grandmothers have sadly passed away, her brother has been involved in four non-fault road accidents while riding his motorcycle and required lengthy hospital treatment, her father’s water ox has been smitten with various mysterious diseases costing a fortune in vets bills and the rest of her unfortunate family are having problems living on the measly 50,000 baht I send them monthly. All in all this has cost me over three million baht to date, but what is money compared to the emotional stress she has so bravely endured?
Now, bless her compassionate soul, she is kindly allowing me to transfer the ownership of my two houses to her name, thus saving the annual dues I have been paying because they have been registered in limited companies.
I appeal to all those lucky enough to have such a caring and compassionate partner to count their blessings and stop whinging about spending a few bob to try and bring a little happiness to these unfortunate but honest ladies and their families. Although I now have little capital left it makes me very happy to know that when all my money is gone Nok would still there to help and support me.
Am I not a lucky man?
Nobody’s Fool

Dear Nobody’s Fool,
It is so uplifting to hear of such generosity between ex-pats like yourself who have come to live here and the local ladies they meet. Not only did you snare someone who is compassionate and caring, but having been a cashier, she will also be very good at mathematics, especially creative counting, as it is known in the bar game. I know there will be people who doubt the fact that three of her grandmothers have passed away, but these are the people who don’t understand village life, and how close the villagers can be. Your uncle could also turn out to be your aunt in the end, you just never can tell these days. I am so glad you are happy, and I’m sure your little Nok will be just as happy after the transfer of the title deeds, but I would also counsel caution, my Petunia. Make sure you have enough money left in the bank at all times to cover your urgent flight home. You just never know! And while you are at it, learn to spell my name. Thank you, Petal.

Dear Hillary,
We’re almost into Febuwery (sic) awready (sic) and most of my New Year reserlutions (sic) have been broked. I was goin (sic) to give up the ciggies, stop the beer and crisps and stay home at least three nights a week, but I can’t do all that. What should I do about it?
Jim

Dear Jim,
At first I thought your letter was someone trying to pull my leg, but then when I looked at the postmark, I took pity on you. Spelling is not a prerequisite for jobs in the coal mines. Do nothing about it, you are just wonderful as you are. Other than the spelling, which is atrocious. Your resolution (not reserlution, Petal) should be to spend at least three nights a week learning your native language. You may have a beer while struggling with the big words.


Dear Hillary,
The following cartoon was sent to the Mail, would you care to comment?
CMM Team

Dear CMM Team,
Thank you for bringing this pornography to my notice. This man Dorian Farmer is obviously on some kind of mind altering substance, probably illegal. How could anyone, even with as little artistic talent as this Farmer person, portray me as a fat frump in tartan? Or even worse, some sort of Thailand’s answer to French footballing headbutter Zinedine Zidane, in drag? And look at the stockings! Fully fashioned 15 denier with seams. Nobody, but nobody, wears that sort of hosiery in this day and age. I would imagine he has some sort of kinky ideas about suspenders as well. Oh, I think I will cry myself to sleep for a week over this. If this Farmer person has any decency at all, I demand a retraction to be published with this column, attached to a bottle of bubbly with which I can console myself. Some chocolates will also help.

The Doc and Jock Show


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Can you justify it?

I was glancing through a camera store’s catalogue the other day and was idly wondering if I should invest in a Nikon D3000 kit which featured the 10.2 megapixel body with the three inch LCD and an 18-55 mm lens. That would set a prospective owner back around 24,900 baht. For almost the same money you could add in a 70-300 mm zoom, bringing the whole system to just a little less than 50,000 baht. Of course, if you wanted to do much night photography, you should also factor in the cost of the SB-900 flash, which was another 19,900 baht, so be prepared to spend almost 70,000 baht for the complete kit.
My eyes then drifted across the page, and there was the D3x, a camera I have mentioned before in this column. With its whacking great 24.5 megapixels and lots more electronic goodies, this was priced at 270,000 baht. Gasp! You can buy a decent car for that kind of money. All of a sudden, the D3000 was looking like a real bargain.
If 270,000 baht was out of your price range, then the sister camera, the D3s was in stock. This one only has 12.1 megapixels, and was going out the door at 179,000 baht. But could this be considered a bargain, when on the next page you could purchase a Coolpix S570 digital compact with 12 megapixels and a slightly small LCD at 2.7 inches for 7,990 baht?
But back to the D3x which is 262,000 baht more expensive. On paper, the D3x makes anything else obsolete, including medium format, but can you justify the expense?
This new full-frame, 24.5 megapixel camera has a list price of US$ 7,999.95 without lens, and it’s here on discount at 270,000 baht. The D3x is really designed for studio use, weighing a hefty 1.2 kg without battery or lens. That is a monster weight, and whilst it can be toted, it is way too heavy for average outdoors use.
While the D3x more than doubles the megapixel count of the D3, it does so at the cost of dropping the maximum frame rate from nine frames per second to five. The one area where it excels is in resolution, demonstrating remarkable sharpness. According to the manufacturer, the great advantage of the D3x over most other cameras is its broad array of customizable features and manual controls, in fact, this very latest Nikon has more features than the average car! It should also be noted that the D3x, despite its enormous price, does not have any auto modes. It is a dedicated manual camera for the professionals who need total control at all times.
The Nikon D3x has theoretically everything you could want in an all-weather, all-conditions digital camera. A magnesium frame body with rubber and plastic outer coating is resistant to shocks and drops, and all the buttons are large and embossed.
The ergonomics and design of the Nikon D3x are largely similar to Nikon’s D3 and D2X professional models. Two screens on the top and rear of the camera provide all necessary information about ISO, aperture and shutter speed. A (640x480) 3" screen is used for Live View, playback and menu adjustment and is very sharp - it can easily be used for focusing in Live View mode.
To emphasize the complete control that the photographer can have over the camera can be seen in the three color modes (called Picture Controls by Nikon): Standard, Neutral and Vivid. Monochrome is also available. There are substantial customization controls for each mode, and all of the color modes can have their sharpening and contrast altered as well. For example, the non-monochrome modes also let you change saturation and hue, and monochrome can add filters (yellow, orange, red and green) and tones (sepia, cyanotype, red, yellow, green, blue-green, blue, purple-blue and red-purple).
Dedicated buttons for ISO, white balance and quality allow for adjustments to be made on the run without delving into on-screen menus, while aperture and shutter speed dials surround both the top-mounted and side-mounted shutter buttons making the Nikon D3x easy to use for either portrait or landscape photography.
But, can you really justify the price? I’d like one, but I cannot justify it!


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Is China helping or hindering?

This is meant to be the Asian century with China leading the way. However, some believe China will not step in to help the West but to try and hinder any potential recovery. The president of China, Hu Jintao, has already gone on record and stated, “The inherent problems of the international economic system have not been fully addressed.” This is undoubtedly true. However, it would also help if India, China, etc., would not keep on exporting both goods and services to the extent they are as this could well lead to either high inflation or deflation in the western economies and maybe all over the world.
World Bank chief economist, Justin Lin, is in the latter camp. He recognizes the fact this recovery has been financed by government money and not in the old fashioned way - production. He is worried by factories lying idle everywhere along with the problems the resultant job losses that naturally occur with lack of manufacturing and companies going broke. He says, “I’m more worried about deflation.”
Another person who is worried is Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman. He says, China is “stealing American jobs.” By keeping the Yuan to the US Dollar at 6.83 he believes that the Chinese are “dumping its unemployment abroad.” What he does not mention is that if China does it then so does every other Emerging Market nation.
Now, let’s not pretend this is all the fault of the Eastern world. It is not. The large multi-nationals think of their shareholders and bonuses before all else. It is much better for them to pay someone in India to answer a phone than it is to employ a person in the West. Even worse, they pay lobbyists to stop respective governments taking any action to prevent this happening. In a certain way, this could be called labour arbitrage.
All of this is not going unnoticed in the West. Already the American unions have employed their own people to lobby Washington on behalf of members. Unemployment in the US is now over ten percent. This is worrying in itself. Even more alarming is the fact that one third of a million home owners in America foreclosed on their properties in the month of October alone (Realty Track). More US citizens have had to give up their homes in 2009 than in the decade of the 1930s. A further seven million properties have already had payment problems and maybe seized in the near future.
In America, President Obama has stated that the Emerging Markets cannot keep expecting the US to carry on buying things when most Americans are ‘maxed’ out in debt. He said, “We have reached one of those rare inflection points in history where we have the opportunity to take a different path.” He went on to intimate that any failure to follow this ‘path’ will “put enormous strains” on Sino-American ties.
Mr Hu is not dumb. He realizes he has to tread carefully along Obama’s path. He does not want to have so much money tied up in America. He could do much better things with a trillion US dollars but he will leave it in America for the moment so as to keep on the right side of the President. The last thing he wants to happen is for America to become protectionist and run behind the NAFTA curtain bringing in capital controls as it shuts. If they did this then it would be China which was suffering and the masses would voice their displeasure - to say the least. The Chinese know this. Mr Hu said his country was taking “vigorous” steps to try to change China’s dependency on exports which are almost 40% of GDP. Hu added that his government, “Wants to increase people’s ability to spend.”
Stephen Roach from Morgan Stanley says China is heading in the right direction as it is creating pensions and a basic health insurance for those living in the rural areas but they are nothing more than “baby steps”. It is hoped these people will now spend some of their money as opposed to saving it.
This is all part of the USD600 billion that the Chinese are spending as part of the stimulus package it has created. However, a lot of it has also been spent on building more production and manufacturing factories. The optimists say this is for the hoped for increase in domestic demand. The cynics believe it is to export even more products. What has not gone into any of the above seems to have found its way into property and/or stocks and shares.
Irrelevant of whether you are an optimist or not, what is undeniable is that Chinese credit has gone mad. The cynics say this is for nothing else than political expediency. For example, China is producing as much steel as the next eight countries combined. It is using more cement than anywhere else and, in 2009, fixed investment increased by over fifty percent.
Even more disconcerting is the fact that, according to Pivot Asset Management, lending has hit 140% of GDP which is way over previous limits. However, the Chinese central bank has started to tighten its belt. New loans were down fifty percent in October. Naturally, this is sending mixed signals. Is China building for better things to come, trying to create an advantage over the Western world or trying to mask a credit crunch of its own?
To be continued…

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please contact Paul Gambles on [email protected]


Life in Chiang Mai: By Mark Whitman

Enter the WOW!! Factor

A very special event on February 7 at Payap University

I’ve written about forthcoming events before in this column but seldom in such anticipation of a very special and fun sounding happening which also benefit such a worthwhile charity. Please read on…..
First the facts: it takes place this coming Sunday and takes the unusual form of a Sushi Dinner and Charity Fair followed by an open air concert, given by some of the finest musicians in Chiang Mai ( and for Chiang Mai please also read Thailand). It is being held at the Srisangwai Campus directly across from the McCormick Hospital. The Fair and meal will held on the lawn and the concert in the nearby open air amphitheatre.
Ask anyone interested in music in this City to name a couple of their favourite performers and I guarantee that the names of the people playing on this evening will be among every choice. Any one or two of them alone usually means a good attendance. Here we have a small ‘band’. Wow indeed. You’ll be very hard to please if the prospect of a meal, with lots going on in the form of stalls and booths, followed by an all star concert does not appeal. And all for just 500 baht: the proceeds going to help Aids victims in Thailand. (Students 200 baht for the concert only).
The event starts at 5.30 on the Sunday afternoon and the dinner will be served until around 7p.m. The concert begins at 7.30. At the time of writing full details of the evening are not available, but here’s what is already scheduled.
The performers (listed alphabetically) will include the Duriyasilp Harp Ensemble (who promise us a harp quartet), Annette George (flute), and Bennett Lerner (piano). Krit Mekara (violin). Remi (electrone) Atsuko Seta (piano), Judith Utley (harp), Xavier Vichitporn (flute). The concert director – and harpist – is Pornnapat Chaisathan. The evening is the Senior Project of Khun Pornnapat, who is Music Business major at Payap University.
Among the music promised – much of it with an oriental flavour (hence the title Melodies of Japan and the Sushi) is Japanese cartoon soundtrack music from the versatile Remi (whose recent piano recital was a sensational evening ), a couple of Japanese piano pieces performed by Atsuko Seta, whose recent concert at the Kad Theatre was a highlight of 2009’s music season and two works by Debussy – Pagoda and Jimbo’s Lullaby – played, of course, by Aj. Bennett Lerner. Other composers represented include Chopin, Scriabin and Gershwin and there will a performance for six hands and ‘toy’ instruments. Sounds intriguing and truly something for everyone.
The proceeds from the evening will go to CAM, a well established charity which seeks to help people suffering from Aids in Thailand. The organisation operates clinic services, home visits and all manner of support including training for volunteers wishing to help in local areas. Another vital aspect is education on the prevention of the disease. Their work is a blend of physical, spiritual and emotional help for anyone suffering from the illness and those who wish to gain some control over their lives. It seems to me that few events in the Chiang Mai calendar will be more worth supporting than this.
You can get additional information from either Payap Music Department on 053 248 037 or from the CCT Aids Ministry on 053 306 310. There is a web site to check out: www.aidscharity2010. exteen.com which has a map for anyone not sure of the campus site, which is only a matter of minutes from the city centre. There is parking in the grounds or a tuk tuk or ‘red car’ will certainly know the University or the McCormick Hospital opposite.


Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai 
The Oscar nominations will be announced on February 2, Thai time.  At about 5:30 p.m. our time, I should think.  The Academy Awards show itself is happening on March 8 at 8 a.m. Thai time.  Arrivals on the red carpet begin about 6 a.m.

I think Avatar will win the best picture award.  How could it not?  It’s now the highest grossing film in the world ever, bypassing Titanic just a week ago – helped, of course, by higher-priced tickets for 3D and IMAX showings.  That sort of success doesn’t pass unnoticed by the motion picture industry, which is after all a business.

But also, it’s a very good film.  It has ages-old, sure-fire plotlines that strike a lot of sensitive spots in the human psyche.  China seems to be having second thoughts about showing the film, as the last thing it wants is to have its people encouraged by the film to resist the forced evictions which are common in China.  Feminists are upset because the female Na’vi are not as muscular as the male.  Organized religion is fearful that the beautifully portrayed mystical animism of the Na’vi might threaten their members’ beliefs.  Repressive governments are not happy about the rallying effect the film has for oppressed people to band together to fight oppression.  All this speaks to the power of the film to deeply affect those who view it.

When the movie schedules changed last Thursday here in Chiang Mai the 2D version of Avatar was pulled from the Major Cineplex schedule at Airport Plaza, leaving the 3D schedule alone.  Then Friday the 2D version was reinstated.  You will have to check with the theater to see if it’s playing or not, and when, as the schedule can change daily.  Avatar continues in the 2D Thai-dubbed version at Vista.  Make sure you see the version of your choice before it leaves, because you don’t want to miss it on the big screen.

Now playing in Chiang Mai

Tai Hong / Die a Violent Death: Thai, Horror/ Thriller – This omnibus film consists of four short shocking stories of death and horror, exploiting four real news stories, directed by Poj Arnon (Bangkok Love Story) and three promising young directors.

The stories involve a dead body in an apartment building’s water tank, directed by Tanwarin Sukkhapisit; a ghost in prison, directed by Manus Worrasingha; a New Year’s Eve pub fire (a re-imagining of last year’s deadly blaze at Bangkok’s Santika pub), directed by Chartchai Ketknust; and a ghost in a motel by Poj.

The September Issue: US, Documentary – This one really came out of the blue!  Major Cineplex did have posters and previews for this, but that was months ago.  No indication recently that they even knew this film existed.  Inscrutable!

Anyway, this is a documentary – and apparently a very entertaining one – chronicling Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s preparations for the 2007 fall-fashion issue.  That issue of Vogue weighed nearly five pounds, and was the single largest issue of a magazine ever published.  With wide-ranging access to the magazine’s offices, the film, directed and produced by R.J. Cutler, tells the story of the legendary Vogue editor and her team creating the issue and ruling the world of fashion.  Generally favorable reviews.

Avatar: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi – A truly major achievement and a technological breakthrough.  It’s exciting and beautiful, and has received near-universal rave reviews from critics and fans.  In English and Na’vi dialogue, with English and Thai subtitles as needed in the 2D version, but unaccountably no English subtitles for Na’vi in the 3D version.  The Vista version is 2D and Thai-dubbed only.  Reviews: Universal acclaim. 

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: US, Animation/ Family – Quirky humor, likeable characters, and solid slapstick.  Generally favorable reviews. (Not shown in 3D here). 

The Spy Next Door: US, Action/ Comedy/ Family – Jackie Chan fans may be running to see this, but most reviewers think it’s a sad little movie entirely designed to set up Chan’s stunt sequences as he fights with pots, pans, and ladders.  Reviewers say it’s flat and witless.

Sherlock Holmes: US/ UK/ Australia, Action/ Crime/ Thriller – The Golden Globes best actor award went to Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes.  This is a new take on the Holmes canon but once you get over the shock of seeing Sherlock played as an action figure, it isn’t all that bad.  A bit of the old Holmes shows through.  Purists, however, will not be amused.  Jude Law plays Watson.  Mixed or average reviews.  

Best Supporting Actor: Thai, Drama/ Romance – Romantic comedy-drama about two friends, one of whom has always been in the shadow of his better-looking, more-popular friend.  A minor variation on the standard Thai rom/com. 

32 Thun Wah / 32 December: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Yet another Thai rom/com in which a young man with amnesia forgets which of his three girlfriends he truly loves.


HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?: By Eric Danell, Dok mai Garden

On Lacquer

Apparently it takes many years to fully know your garden. For many months I have asked the gardeners to search for the lacquer tree (Gluta usitata, Rak yai). I wanted to bring it to Dokmai Garden since it constitutes an important part of Thai art and culture. A few days ago I discovered that we already have a 15 m tall specimen behind the kitchen. As the leaves of the lacquer tree resemble the adjacent shampoo tree (Litsea glutinosa, Ton mi), I never paid attention to it until now, when the spectacular winged fruits are formed. The wings are enlarged petals, which turn vinaceous red in late January. When the fruit is mature and the wings dry into copper brown, the fruit falls down like a helicopter.
This relative of mango, cashew and poison ivy is native to the dry monsoon forests of Chiang Mai. Although the sap causes violent skin inflammations, it used to be collected from mature trees in April and May. The sap, which soon oxidizes into a shiny black lacquer, has been used to cover baskets to make them insect resistant. After drying over night and smoothing with sandpaper, the procedure was repeated until a smooth, glossy, black surface was created. Craftsmen would then carve elaborate patterns, which were filled with lacquer dyed with contrasting colours such as red, yellow or green. Royal or religious lacquerware might also have inlays of mother-of-pearl. Since the workers suffered from the poisonous resin and toxic dyes such as cinnabar (mercury sulfide), true lacquerware can nowadays only be found in museums and antique stores. The typical but rare Chiang Mai lacquerware is characterised by a lovely, dense, black floral pattern on red background. Modern production in Pagan in Burma involves artificial lacquer, but the carving still requires a master hand. Lacquer should not be mixed up with shellac, a varnish used to create shiny wood surfaces. Shellac is based on the exudate of the lac insect, Kerria lacca (Homoptera/Coccoidae). This insect can be found on Chiang Mai trees too, but that is another story. [email protected]


Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Some of the 36 bridge players who enjoyed an afternoon of bridge
at The Pub at the first annual Club Day of Chiang Mai’s Bridge Club.

On Friday, January 22nd the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai held their first annual Club Day and light hearted individual tournament. We started in the morning, broke for an enjoyable buffet lunch at The Pub, and finished in the afternoon for a relaxed day of bridge. We had 36 players at nine tables—the club’s highest attendance to date. All players changed partners at each board so that everyone got to play with (almost) everyone else. There were awards for making a slam, making a redoubled contract etc., in addition to placing in the top four. The best prizes were those brought by Rado Nordtveit, including a wonderful hat and “X-ray glasses” so that you could see through the backs of the cards! Particular credit for the smooth running of the tournament goes to Penny Ellis for signing up the ideal number of players and John Bucher for all his work on movement cards etc.—individual tournament movements are much more complicated than pairs movements.
Carolyn Kaufer won the event, closely followed by Chris Hedges, Mike Williams in third place and Ruth Willmon in fourth. The prize for making a redoubled contract went to Richie Tierney (who also got to take home the above-mentioned hat) and Chris Hedges. Highest score on a board went to Fran Decoster and Rado Nordtveit. Congratulations to these and all who took part for a successful and fun day.
Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site at www.bridgeclubchiangmai.com. If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]


MAIL OPINION : By Shana Kongmun

From the Editor

Beautifying Chiang Mai; a few suggestions.

The new Mayor’s plan to beautify parts of the city, specifically Chang Khlan road and Tha Pae Road, are commendable. The ugly hanging cables and wires certainly are an eyesore and often dangerous to passersby. Removing the poles from the sidewalks will definitely be an improvement for pedestrians.
I do hope, however, that authorities recall those of the community who are less than fully mobile when they rebuild the sidewalks. While planting trees and flowers are commendable, they often make progressing down the sidewalks difficult for even those who are not disabled. The trees blocking the sidewalks along the moat side of Manee Noparat Road a perfect example, narrowing the sidewalk so much that two people cannot even pass each other, much less someone in a wheelchair use it. Add in potholes and gaps in the sidewalks, and for those using canes or even in wheelchairs, makes progress impossible, often forcing people out in the street, to dodge motorbikes, tuk tuks, cars, trucks and songthaews.
Handicap access in Thailand is woefully inadequate, from Bangkok skytrain stations with no handicap access whatsoever, to vendors on the sidewalks, to lack of ramps into buildings, it seems that planning for handicapped people is not even considered when constructing projects here. I hope that the new Mayor and his fellow Council members have not followed suit and have taken into consideration those of the community and tourists who would like full access to the world around them.
Another big help for visitors and residents alike in this new plan to make these areas more accessible and attractive would be to add in cross walks with lights like the one across the moat near the Montri Hotel. Trying to cross the road to Tha Pae Gate from outside the moat is nearly impossible at certain times of the day. One can stand there and pray that eventually someone will take pity on you and allow you to dash across the street, or that there will be a momentary gap in the traffic so that you can take your life into your own hands and speed across the street dodging motorbikes, tuk tuks and the rest of the traffic.
I hope those in charge remember to take pedestrians, both on foot and in wheelchairs, into consideration in their latest plans for the two of the most touristed areas in Chiang Mai City.



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