The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
How’s your (sickness) insurance?
I was talking to the
Scandinavian Expats Club and mentioned the check-up packages offered by many
local hospitals. I advised them to seriously consider an annual check-up. In
my humble (medical) opinion, the advantages of finding medical problems at
an early stage far outweigh not knowing.
For example, correcting hypertension at an early stage
makes medical sense. You must agree that correcting hypertension is better
than brain surgery and intensive care after a stroke caused by high blood
pressure, never mind pain and suffering and living the rest of your life as
a tomato or an even less colorful vegetable!
Likewise, correction of high blood sugar today beats
having your leg surgically removed because of diabetic problems in 20 years
However, Peter Smith from AA Insurance Brokers brought
out an interesting situation, which could be vitally important for someone
finding they have a chronic problem. If you have your check-up and find that
you have high blood pressure, and then go and take out insurance, it is too
late. You “know” about your blood pressure problem at the time of applying
for the insurance, so it becomes a ‘pre-existing condition’ and your insurer
is within its rights to refuse to pay for the further treatment of your
blood pressure, or for any other conditions caused by high blood pressure.
Including the stroke.
The simple answer is to make sure your insurance policies
are in place before having the annual check-up. In fact, I strongly advise
everyone to take out medical insurance. You do not know what is round the
next corner. It could be a motorcycle coming the wrong way up a one way
street. Even I have insurance, and I work in the hospital, so I don’t really
need it - but I can also be run over in Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Nakhon
So back to check-ups. Many people work on the principle
that they would rather not know about any underlying or sinister medical
conditions they may have. After all, we are all going to die one day, aren’t
we? I have always said that despite all the advances in medical science, the
death rate will always be the same – one per person!
However, check-ups are inherently involved in that
important feature called the Quality of Life. Longevity alone, with no
quality, just isn’t worth it in my book.
The guiding principle behind check-ups is to find
deviations from normal health patterns at an early stage. Early enough that
the trend can be reversed, before damage has occurred. Examples of this
include blood pressure (BP) increase which is generally symptomless, and
blood sugar. It requires sky-high sugar levels before the person begins to
feel that something might be wrong. And by then the sugar levels have
affected vision, the vascular system and many other systems, all of which
can decrease your quality of life in the future.
Respiratory conditions also rate high on the list of
medical events that can decrease your quality of life. Yet the majority of
these can be found early, and treated successfully.
Cardiac conditions and abnormalities, be that in anatomy
or function, can also very adversely affect your quality of life, but are
very easily found during a routine check-up. Various blood tests and an EKG
can show just how well the cardiac pump is functioning, and how well it will
continue to function in the future. The inability to walk more than 50
meters certainly takes the fun out of shopping, yet this can be predicted -
if you have some serial records!
Another of the silent killers can be discovered in your
lipid profile, with Cholesterol and its fractions HDL and LDL being
intimately connected with your cardiac status. Again a situation where
detecting abnormalities now can mean that you can get through the deadly
50-60 year age bracket in the future with clear coronary arteries and a
clean bill of health.
Renal (kidney) function and liver function can also be
monitored through an annual check-up, as can prostate size (indicated by the
PSA blood test) or breast tumors (by mammogram).
Take my tip, make sure you have insurance and then get
your check-up. But do it quickly! That makes good sense.
Care for Dogs:
Bankaew dog needs a home with a yard
This is Simba - a beautiful purebred Bankaew with a wonderful coat.
He has been sterilized and vaccinated. We rescued him from a
terrible breeder in Bangkok. His previous owner had sometimes beaten
him and had chained him for two years which caused chain marks
around his neck. Simba is playful and loyal and a very good guard
dog. Bankaew dogs tend to be very protective towards their owner.
While this is a loyal and wonderful trait this same behavior can
mean difficulties with visitors and/or other dogs. As our shelter
welcomes many visitors a day and has over one hundred other dogs,
our set-up is not an ideal place for him. Simba needs to stay with a
person who has experience with Bankaews, has a fenced-in garden and,
ideally, no other dogs. Simba deserves a warm loving home with
owners who can nurture his good side. If you are interested in
adopting Simba, please contact us as soon as possible. (Phone
English 08 47 52 52 55 / Thai 086 913 87 01 or [email protected] / www.carefordogs.org)
Heart to Heart
You do seem to cop some stick from all the “thinkers” out there who
believe in Santa Claus and sick buffaloes as being facts. One chap hit
it right on the head when he wrote that you’ll always have a job as
there are so many mindless males visiting Thailand. Just ignore the
idiots out there, old girl, we all love you. Keep up the good work.
Thank you for the morale booster, even if what you call “the idiots out
there” really need ‘moral’ boosters. If they thought with the big head,
rather than the small one, if you understand my shorthand, then there
wouldn’t be so many men wondering where their nest eggs went to. However,
Petal, it is my duty to try and look after these poor souls, a task I
voluntarily undertook after seeing the plight of several of these
buffaloes and brothers with broken legs from motorcycle accidents. You
have to feel sorry for them, Max. You really do, but please, if you
contact me in the future a little less of the “old girl”.
I have just recently come to live in Thailand with my husband on a two
year overseas posting. Normally back home I like to be fairly
independent and drive myself everywhere, but I am a little afraid of the
traffic here. My husband’s company supplies a driver, but I don’t like
to think of him sitting around in the heat while I do my shopping. Do
you think it is safe enough for Western women to drive here and at night
too? My husband says I shouldn’t bother and it doesn’t matter, that’s
what the driver’s there for. What do you think?
Dear Timid Theresa,
Your husband is right. If you have a driver be eternally grateful. Thai
drivers really do not mind waiting. One of the bonuses of being a driver
is that they get paid to sleep while they wait, in air-conditioned
comfort too. Yes it is completely safe to drive around Chiang Mai both
day and night compared to Bangkok traffic which is chaotic and not so
much fun. Though, as your husband says, why bother to drive if you have
a driver? That is what he is there for. If you are concerned about your
independence or the driver being suddenly unavailable, then practise
driving here so there’s never a problem.
There has been a crackdown recently about copy goods - shirts, CD’s and
watches and the like. Why is this? Everyone knows that you go to Asia
and buy real bargains. I always bring back three or four watches for the
girl friends and a couple of footy shirts for the blokes. What’s wrong
with this? If I can’t get the stuff in Thailand, do you know where I can
get them? I’m coming over in a couple of weeks, so if you can let me
know early that would be good.
How would you feel if you made some type of special goods and then found
that cheap copies were being marketed at half the price you sell them
for? Mind you, I think that many of these overseas goods are highly over-priced
too. The whole question of copyright is well beyond Hillary’s brain, I’m
afraid. I’m just worried about getting ‘copy’ champagne. As to where you
can go to get the things you want - the markets still have them I
believe, but don’t tell the police. Unless the police are running the
Are all Thai girls as forward as the one I met the other night? I was
sitting on my own in the bar and I didn’t want to listen to the usual
inane chatter that the bar girls carry on with, “Hello sexy man. Where
you come from?” that kind of stuff. I started to talk to the service
girl and she seemed a nice enough lady, so I bought her a couple of
drinks, but then went home. The next day she rolls up at my office with
some flowers for me! I was so embarrassed, as all my work mates were
laughing, and the girls in the office weren’t all that impressed. I
asked one of the girls to find out what she wanted, but all they said
was that the lady liked me. What do I do with this? The last thing I
need is unwanted visits.
Dear Embarrassed Edward,
Just how did this girl know where you worked? If she is clairvoyant,
then I think you should keep her, my Petal, and cash up on all the
winning lottery tickets she will predict for you. But if, on the other
had, it was because you gave her your business card, then you have
nobody to blame but yourself. If you don’t want to be followed up, don’t
hand out your business cards. Of course you can always use someone
else’s card, but I didn’t tell you that.
by Harry Flashman
Inspiration and your
you have you a favorite photographer? No? Well, you should!
Everyone should have a photographer whose work stimulates you to
greater heights. For me, I have many whose work I enjoy - Norman
Parkinson, Helmut Newton and Jeff Dunas all rate high, but one
photographer who inspires me not only with his images, but also
with his words, is Larry Dale Gordon.
I have many photographic books in my personal library
including the irreplaceable “Shooting your way to a million dollars” by
Richard Sharabura, Al Satterwhite and Michael Busselle. However Larry
Dale Gordon has his own special magic.
Now when I say that your favorite photographer’s work
should inspire you, that does not mean that you should rush out and
slavishly copy their work. Don’t laugh, I have seen it done so many
times in camera club level photographers who have been most upset when I
mark them down for copying, rather than being creative.
When I say “inspire” I mean that you look at the work
and say to yourself, “How did he/she do that?” You should look at the
end result and work out how you can use that technique, to produce your
own shot. Half the fun in photography is working out “how to” with the
other half being the enjoyment of looking at the final image.
So why does Larry Dale Gordon inspire me? There are
many reasons. First off, he is a self trained photographer who believes
that the way to learn is to do it. Let me quote you from one of his
books: “I learned photography through experience; by putting film
through the camera, peering through the lenses, trial and error, and
pondering every facet of light. It’s the only way. If you think there is
another way, or a faster way, write a book telling how and you will make
considerably more money than by being a photographer.” These are very
wise words. Cut them out and stick them on your bathroom mirror and read
them every day! In fact, a renowned Thai photographer, Tom Chuawiwat,
used to tell me that professional photography was the only job where the
client paid you to learn!
I’ve tried to see just what it is about Larry Dale
Gordon’s pictures that appeal so much to me and I’ve come up with two
basic concepts. Simplicity and Color.
Look at the photograph I have used to illustrate this
week’s article. A classic, showing simplicity and color by a Colin
Glanfield. The couple running up the beach, silhouetted against the
water and the sand in the background. Unfortunately, this newspaper is a
black and white medium, so just imagine, if you will, what that shot
looks like with the water a golden orange with the black shadows and
silhouette. It is a simple, uncluttered shot with only one color in it.
It is classic and timeless and there is absolutely nothing to detract (or
distract) from the couple in the photograph.
Now before you rip out with two friends at sunset and
try and duplicate this shot, read the second paragraph again! Let’s not
make slavish copies! But instead, let’s look at how we can accomplish
the effect of a monochromatic picture and silhouette. This can actually
be done any time of day, but to make it easier for you, pick your
favorite beach or riverside at a time when the sun can be behind your
subject - be that people or things. Now you need a tricky filter, called
a “tobacco” filter. On that bright sunny day, with the light behind your
subject(s) hold this brown/orange filter over the lens and pop the
shutter. Stick it on Auto if you will, the camera will do the rest. Even
experiment with different colors to get strangely wonderful or weirdly
The only point to really remember is to get the light
behind the subject. You will be able to get this “pseudo sunset” look
any time after three in the afternoon. Try it and amaze your friends
with a classic silhouette - and if you don’t tell them about Colin
Glanfield, I won’t!
Money Matters: John Sheehan
Global Markets Asia
The inevitable demise of Western
Democratic Capitalism? Part 2
ineffectiveness demonstrated in numbers
The 2008 crash, that government neither understood nor
thought ever likely to occur, generates its own compelling statistics. Equity
markets lost US$26 trillion. Real estate markets, US$30 trillion so far, and are
still falling. Structured securities US$5 trillion according to the newly
elected US President until the spin machine gagged him! Add it all together and
US$60 trillion slipped through the net in a year - that is in excess of World
GDP, 4 years of the US economy and somewhere between 15 and 20 years of the
Chinese economy, all completely missed and deemed impossible by Government!
Who is responsible for this carnage? Government of course!
What sensible entity would cure a bubble by creating another one? In this case,
replacing the dot.com and TMT bubble of the ‘90s (which followed the big bang
boom of the ‘80s) with a housing bubble, and in doing so, demonstrating a clear
misunderstanding of macroeconomic interest rate policy!
The media is littered with quotes from government which at
first seemed amusing, but upon further reflection give an ominously alarmist
indication of government incompetence. Quotes like, “The unlikelihood of there
ever being a nationwide US housing crash!” That, “In spite of the sub-prime
crash market fundamentals were solid, and sub-prime was just a minor blip.”
Perhaps most worrying from the man now charged with leading the US out of
recession; “That sub-prime would be contained and might end up costing the
taxpayer as much as UD$100 billion!”
Recently described as a “moral hazard” at a Senate Committee
Hearing, Bernanke’s best solution to the current problem seems to be to repeat
the Greenspan misjudgement and generate a new asset bubble of sufficient
capacity to return the economy to growth!
Bernanke’s recovery tactics have centred on boosting the
money supply in an effort to avoid similar policy mistakes made by the Fed that
contributed to the Great Depression. Like his predecessors 70 years previously
he is now learning that it is relatively easy to inject the money into the
system, but a much tougher challenge to make it circulate freely and boost the
economy! Worryingly, he increasingly resembles an isolated academic rather than
the streetwise man of action critical to creating genuine confidence that is
capable of kick-starting a real and sustainable recovery.
In response to Milton Friedman’s criticism of the Fed’s
mistakes during the Great Depression, Bernanke stated in 2002: “As an official
representative of the Federal Reserve, I would like to say to Milton: Regarding
the Great Depression, ‘you’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to
you, we won’t do it again.’” As he is seemingly such a loyal follower of the
Friedman monetarist policies that have become so discredited in recent years,
let’s hope that these words do not return to haunt him in the future!
How Governments fix the
Number massaging has been used by governments since the dawn
of politics to paint a rosy picture, especially in the run-up to elections. The
three main areas where governments may seek to fraudulently improve their
perceived performance are unemployment numbers, GDP and consumer price indexes.
If one takes the US official unemployment rate as an example, which is currently
running at 10.2%: add back into the numbers the professionally unemployed sector,
which was removed in 1994 and short term discouraged workers and the
unemployment rate doubles to 22%! That means that within the working age
population one out of every five people are being subsidized by the other four!
Another example is calculation of GDP numbers. GDP numbers
are generally optimistic because they include government spending but do not
subtract government borrowing to fund the spending. There are three main ways to
calculate GDP: 1) the expenditure method, 2) the income method, and 3) the value-added
method. Theoretically all three methods should produce the same result, but as
we have seen recently with the torrent of stimulus packages from governments all
around the world GDP “growth” registers most prominently in the expenditure
method. Manipulation in this manner has, for example, enabled the Australian
government to claim that it has avoided entering recession in 2009. Obvious
adjustment is clearly evident within the Consumer Price Index when the method of
calculation was changed during the Clinton administration to give a better
picture of the numbers.
Blatant withholding of information by Government has recently
come to light as a result of Bloomberg suing the Fed under the Freedom of
Information Act. On November 7th 2009 Bloomberg commenced an action in response
to the Fed refusing to release information regarding commercial bank lending. It
is likely that if this information were released it would show the truth behind
lending performance which would likely have an adverse effect upon markets and
expose a fundamental constituent of Government’s stimulus programmes as failing.
In addition to this, the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee
also brought out a suit against the Fed in December 2009 seeking a court order
for release of the central bank’s records on intervention in the gold market
undertaken in order to manipulate the metal’s market price!
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]
DVD of the Week:
By Mark Whitman
The Hurt Locker (2009)
and Flandres (2005)
The first thing to say is
that if The Hurt Locker opens commercially in cinemas here as the result of
its many Oscars, then see it on the big screen with an audience. It is
powerful and electrifying stuff, not great but sharply written, wonderfully
well acted and directed with urgency and skill by Kathryn Bigelow. Put
bluntly, the dreary Avatar should not be mentioned in the same breath, since
in fact they are as different as might be.
Hurt Locker deals with men in war and especially when
under great stress: the main guys defuse bombs and booby traps – no pen
pushers here. The tensions they experience here (and, as we know, on
returning home) are familiar to anyone who has had the misfortune to be in
battle or occupied territory and, of course, is familiar second hand from
great movies such as the Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick. This film lacks
the poetry and grandeur of that masterpiece and is touted as a plea for
‘bringing our boys back home’ but does not try to address the political
I have written about this very new film because the
cinemas in Chiang Mai have – so far - neglected it and it is already on DVD,
as is a ‘companion piece’ Flandres by the controversial director Bruno
Dumont who has moved away (well sort of) from his normal locations and taken
some of his characters into a war which brutalizes them even more than the
harsh surrounding they are plucked from. In this film the locations were
Tunisia (for the American film they went to Jordan) but the difference
matters little – in both cases the soldiers are alien from the locals and
the new ‘world’ they are obliged to inhabit.
Dumont’s film won not an Oscar but the Grand Prize of the
Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and it is an intense experience. He shows
us the background from which the young men are taken, his characteristic
northern locations, flat, windswept, harsh and the grinding work and near
poverty they endure. Sex is shown as perfunctory and when they later
encounter a woman combatant they gang rape her and later many of them pay
the consequences of this vile and unfeeling action.
Dumont’s film is far more minimalist and decidedly more
disturbing. But both films make their point with great strength. They show
us that no one wins in a war and it was ‘amusing’ to me to see in the
excellent, if superficial, Green Zone, recently released, Mr. Bush shown
spouting proudly that ‘America and her allies have won the Iraq war’ How
wrong could a man be? Both the DVDs are available from the Movies and Music
DVD shop at 289 Suthep Road, which has a stock of 20,000 movies for hire.
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Three issues ago I
expressed my displeasure at Major Cineplex for promising, through posters
and previews, to bring “Up in the Air” to Chiang Mai, and then failing to do
so. If you were interested, I asked you to write to them and complain. I
heard from several people that they did just that. Maybe it worked! At any
rate, here we have “Up in the Air” this week. Make sure you make use of our
hard-earned victory. Not that it’s the greatest picture of all time, but it
was nominated for best picture this year, and George Clooney was up for best
actor, and the two leading ladies were each up for the best supporting
actress award. So there is considerable interest in the film. And I do
think that there is hardly an actor alive with whom it’s more pleasant to
spend a couple of hours than George Clooney. (And if you get the chance,
don’t miss him in “Fantastic Mr. Fox”.)
And as an added bonus
we have the feel-good movie of the year, the truly delightful “Julie &
Julia”, also promised by Major Cineplex for an appearance a long time ago.
But enough, go and enjoy.
playing in Chiang Mai
Up in the Air:
US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – Led by charismatic performances by its three
leads, director/ writer Jason Reitman delivers a smart blend of humor and
emotion with just enough edge to be nominated as best picture of the year,
with the best directing and the best adapted screenplay. George Clooney
flies around the US firing people that their bosses are too timid to do
themselves. Co-stars Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick were each nominated for
best supporting actress. Vera Farmiga plays for me a fascinating character,
and her relationship with George Clooney is utterly fresh and surprising.
Rated R in the US for language and some sexual content. Reviews: Universal
US, Biography/ Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – An absolutely delightful and joyful
film! See it! Meryl Streep gives a charismatic performance as Julia Child,
and Amy Adams is Julie Powell in writer-director Nora Ephron’s adaptation of
their bestselling memoirs, in a story about the intertwined lives of two
women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends –
until they discover that with the right combination of passion,
fearlessness, and butter, anything is possible. Generally favorable
US, Comedy/ Romance – Rom-com cliches, but a pair of young, attractive
leads. Kristen Bell plays a young, ambitious New Yorker who is completely
unlucky in love, but on a whirlwind trip to Rome she impulsively steals some
coins from a reputed fountain of love, and is then aggressively pursued by a
band of suitors. Generally unfavorable reviews.
Alice in Wonderland
Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – Not your usual Alice, because it’s a new
story, a riff on the original, with Alice all grown up as a late teens girl
about to be proposed to. Escaping for a moment from the ditz proposing to
her, she returns to Wonderland to find the strange land now in the hands of
a cruel despot who is making life miserable for everybody. With director
Tim Burton, plus this particular Alice (Misa Wasikowska), plus Johnny Depp
in another of his way-out-there tragicomic performances, plus 3D – it adds
up to an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind movie experience. Mixed or average
reviews. In 3D, and at Major Cineplex Airport Plaza only.
France/ US/ Spain/ UK, Action/ Drama/ Thriller/ War – Courageous director
Paul Greengrass takes on the whole Bush Administration (and the Blair
administration too I guess) as he reminds us all, very forcefully, that
there never were “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq and the governments
knew it, and the whole fiction was created as an excuse to go to war.
Starring Matt Damon as a US Army officer who hunts for the elusive WMD and
finds only an elaborate cover-up. Rated R in the US for violence and
language. Vista has a Thai-dubbed version as well.
Prok / Shadow of the Naga:
Thai, Action/ Drama – A long-shelved monks-with-guns crime drama,
it’s the story of three thieves who bury their loot on the grounds of a
Buddhist monastery, and when they come back later to dig it up, they find a
temple has been built on the spot. So they ordain as Buddhist monks while
they figure out how to get their treasure. The film premiered at the
2008 Toronto International Film Festival, but its strong depictions of the
thieves robed as Buddhist monks have kept it out of Thai theaters until now.
Little Comedian / Ban Chan:
Thai, Family/ Comedy – A family comedy troupe harbors a black sheep –
a son who isn’t funny and is constantly upstaged by his filthy-mouthed
younger sister. Comedian Jaturong Mokjok plays the father of the clan.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
Here is board 14 from
the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai pairs game on March 10th.
No one was vulnerable and East dealt. At all six tables, South played in a
heart contract. Two tables were in 4H, two tables were in 5H (presumably
after EW bid 4S and forced NS to the five level) and two were in 6H
doubled. Both slams went down one. Both 5H contracts just made. Only the
two 4H contracts made twelve tricks. Yet, if declarer plays correctly twelve
tricks are cold, no matter what the defense does. Can you see the correct
line of play?
The answer is to pull
one round of trumps, play out the ace of spades and the high diamonds. Then
either set up dummy’s diamonds or cross ruff the hand out—on this hand the
play to do either is much the same. At our table West led a singleton
diamond. Win this in dummy and lead a low heart to the ace, relieved to see
the queen of hearts fall (declarer must not duck the queen or East will play
a diamond back for West to ruff and the contract will go down). Leave the
master king of hearts outstanding. Play the ace of spades, throwing the
losing club from board. Now cross to board with the ace of clubs, and play
the other high diamond throwing a club from hand. It does not make any
difference whether West ruffs with the king or not. But say that West does
ruff and now leads a high spade. Ruff this on board and play another
diamond. East covers and you ruff. Now you cross to board again by ruffing a
spade and play another diamond. East covers with his last diamond. You ruff
again and get back to board by trumping your last black card. By now, both
dummy and hand are good—dummy has only the three last winning diamonds and
you have only winning trumps in your hand. Of your losing two clubs and two
spades, one was thrown on a high diamond and the other three were ruffed on
board. Twelve tricks made, losing only the king of clubs.
It does not make any
difference what opening lead West makes. For example, if West leads a club,
win the ace on board, cross to hand with the ace of trumps and throw the
losing club from dummy on the ace of spades. Then cross ruff the hand out as
before. Congratulations to the two declarers who did play it correctly,
Dennis Hudson and John Bucher.
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 : The haze is sullying not just the view
The astonishingly bad air quality in Chiang Mai last week
boggles the mind. Everyone was dumbfounded and friends of mine said it was
the worst they had seen in years. This after the Provincial Authorities
started an educational campaign and promoted a hotline to call in case of
fire. I can’t imagine that the fires are solely the result of the burning of
agricultural fields, on a trip south Sunday the 14th I
passed many unburned fields of rice stubble. So, it seems, at least the
Lamphun farmers were listening, Perhaps they started burning after I passed
The great debate of ‘should I wear a mask’, ‘which mask
is more effective’ and ‘should I leave’, has begun in earnest. My friends
tell me that many of the people who can leave, are leaving now or plan to
leave in the near future. One long term expat tells me that he makes sure he
always leaves Chiang Mai for a minimum of 5 weeks beginning every March. Not
only is the mass exodus detrimental to an economy already hit by the global
economic crisis but the health implications to those that remain cause
concern for many.
All that can be said is that if Chiang Mai wishes to
retain its residents, both expat and Thai, retirees, employees and employers,
its tourists and visitors, this situation must be remedied and cannot be
repeated as it has been for years. Chiang Mai is a beautiful city with so
much to offer. Friendly people, good food, live music, arts. An amazing and
vibrant local culture makes Chiang Mai an utterly unique destination in
Thailand, a reputation that locals hold with pride. But haze so thick that
visibility is reduced to less than a kilometer can do nothing but sully the
reputation of this beautiful city. Haze so thick that the airport is forced
to turn on landing lights during the daytime scares people off and rightly
so. It saddens me that Chiang Mai will be better known as a polluted place
to avoid rather than the lovely, vibrant and culturally important city that
How does your garden grow?:
By Eric Danell,
Mae Khanin in memoriam?
National parks are important to any gardener as a source
of inspiration. Therefore I was sad to learn that a most adorable valley in
the Opkhan National Park is (again) promoted as a site for a dam. Mae Khanin
Tai is situated some 25 km SW of the Chiang Mai Airport Plaza, and is one of
these pristine mountain villages which the guide books claim does not exist
anymore. I trust it is absolutely essential to quickly promote the valley
for ecotourism, as otherwise many people, including villagers, would love to
sell it to the concrete lobby. The valley is home to civets, barking dear,
jungle fowl, macaque monkeys and leopard cats. When I searched for orchids
in the Mae Sa valley I was surprised to find hardly any, as they have been
exterminated by forestry and illegal collectors. I was surprised, because I
had been spoiled by the scenery in Mae Khanin, where rare native orchids are
abundant. However, to see them, you have to climb straight up the hillsides,
which is very tough. The silence, the adorable Lanna style temple and the
steep mountainsides covered with indigenous trees should not be lost. A
solution to the water needs would be to buy any other scrubland, dig a deep
quarry and then collect more water, although we have many of those already
here in Hang Dong. To get there; take the canal road past the Night Safari
and past the Samoeng intersection. Keep driving along the canal another ca 5
km until you see a road sign saying “Opkhan National Park” to your right (west).
Drive on that road about 12 km. Do not turn left where it says “Opkhan”, but
keep driving on the brand new asphalt road straight west. At a fork, keep
left. Drive until you see the cute little forest temple. If you speak Thai,
ask for Duang Ta, who is married to the village head, and who is a proud
defender of Thai nature. She might suggest what you can do to save the
valley, or at least you can show her your sympathy, to boost her spirits to
fight the giants. [email protected]