The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
Give yourself another 10 years!
The secret of living a long and
healthy life is learning to drive your own diseases. This goes in particular
for such conditions as hypertension and diabetes. Both of these are amenable
to treatment, and both of them can be monitored by yourself. Whilst it is
necessary for a doctor to oversee your treatment, your doctor can do this
much more efficiently with a little help from you.
Taking blood pressure monitoring first, there are many
automatic, self-inflating cuff instruments that will give you a digital read-out
of your systolic (the high reading) and diastolic (the low reading). For
these home readings to have even more significance, you need to have a small
notebook recording time and date. After many days you will be able to show a
strong pattern so that your doctor can really tailor the medication to keep
your BP in ‘safe’ limits, and avoid side effects from the medication.
By doing this, you can give yourself upwards of another
10 years of healthy living. That has to be worth it, surely!
The other condition that lends itself to home monitoring
is diabetes. We know that uncontrolled diabetes is life threatening. We also
know that poorly controlled diabetes will shorten your life and lower the
quality of life. However, well controlled diabetes need not be a bar to a
good and happy long life.
However, how do you know if your diabetes is well
controlled? The blood test you have once a month, both blood sugar and
glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), can give your doctor a ‘snapshot’ of what is
going on, but at best, it is only a rough indicator. Something more exact is
much better, and that something is under your control! This is home blood
If you wish to lead an independent and active life,
learning to test blood sugar levels by yourself is essential. The results
from the home monitoring provide information about how meal intake and
timing, medication, exercise and stress affect your blood sugar levels. All
important factors both your doctor and you need to know to be able to
correctly balance your blood sugar levels with diet and medication.
There are many different monitors for checking blood
sugar and your doctor or diabetes team can advise you on makes and models
suitable for your condition.
Just like blood pressure monitoring, keeping a log book
is a very important part of the monitoring. Random blood sugars are very
inaccurate methods trying to get in control.
However, unlike blood pressure monitoring there are
certain precautions you have to take to get the required accuracy. Note that
you need to ensure that :
The meter is clean;
The meter has the correct code that matches the strip you
Wash your hands with warm water and air-dry before
Squeeze or milk your finger a few times gently. Excessive
milking is discouraged as results obtained may be inaccurate, but do make
sure you have a good-sized drop of blood.
Now you need to know how often you should test. This is
where you must follow the recommendations from your doctor, as your doctor
will want levels at different times of the day to get an idea of how well
your treatment program is working for you.
Generally, the best times to check are before breakfast,
before lunch, before dinner and before bedtime snack. Sometimes it is also
useful to check blood sugar two hours after a meal to see the effect of the
food on your blood sugar levels. You should also test your levels more
frequently during periods of stress, illness, or surgery, when you are
pregnant, or when low blood sugar is suspected or when there are changes
made in your treatment program, such as a change in medication dose, meal
plan or activity
You should also know your own target range. This depends
on your age, which type of diabetes you have and the duration of the
diabetes. Your doctor will help you with targets, and an ‘action plan’ for
when your home monitoring shows levels above or below the targets.
Learn to drive your own diseases and live happily ever
after (or until you are 100)!
Maem has been with Care for Dogs for over 2 years and could really
do with finding a home of her own. Having said that, she is a mature,
loving, well-balanced dog who takes life in her four-legged stride.
Come to the shelter and you’re sure to find your doggie match.
If you think Maem would be the perfect complement
to your family – contact the shelter English (08 47 52 52 55) or
Thai language (08 69 13 87 01) to make an appointment to meet her,
e-mail: [email protected] or visit the website for further
Heart to Heart
It’s Delboy again, still alive but not kicking, as I
have just completed a 2,770 kilometer ride on my little 125cc Honda
Dream motorcycle which left me, to put it crudely a sore backside! What
a fantastic machine the bike is, it never missed a beat the whole trip
and handled the mountain passes with ease.
While I was riding between cities I got to thinking
how times have changed. Nowadays so many Farang get carried away with
Thai ladies, or should I say their money gets carried away by Thai
Ladies? You know Hilary twenty years ago it was a different story, it
was the Farang that got paid to become engaged or married to a beautiful
Thai lady! The good old days I guess foreign males would call them. Of
course there was no guarantee that they would stay married once the lady
got citizenship of the country she went to.
But that didn’t matter, the Farang would just get the
next flight back to Thailand and repeat the process! He could even give
up work and make it a full time profession. Of course I don’t know
anyone who did that, but I did hear that went on in the good old days.
It was a win-win situation for all concerned, sadly a
bit different now for I guess the majority of Farang males. Anyway just
Happy Songkran to you Hillary and all the staff at
“The Mail”. I’m off for a rear end massage, all the very best.
What on earth possessed you? 2,770 km on a step-though! Are you mad, or
was it just temporary insanity? Next you’ll tell me you are going to
ride up and down the main streets in a T-shirt and shorts during
Songkran. I enjoyed my Songkran, locked in my attic above the newspaper
office and getting pizzas pushed under the door – I wouldn’t open it for
Your story of the reverse dowry does have an element of truth in it, but
the time scale is wrong, Petal. It wasn’t 20 years ago, it was more like
120 years ago, and even I wasn’t around then. This was also the case in
India, where intermarrying was one way of lightening the skin color. In
Thailand we just use whitening cream these days.
A poem for you, from Dave Toussaint:
I met a girl in old Thailand
She told me of the classic man
Classic man what lady like
Have BM car not motorbike
Have Lolex watch and it not fake
Classic man not make mistake
He may drink and he may smoke
But not laugh much and never joke
He never smile and never sing
He have control on everything
He wear glasses he serious
He aeroplane he never bus
Have designer shoes, designer shirt
He always clean he not have dirt
Wear Levi jeans and have long legs
Classic man he can good sex
He go to gym he exercise
Everyday until he dies
Classic man have master plan
He buy house and he buy land
Classic man have business life
And number 1??
.......he want Thai wife!
Thank you, Petal, all very true, but, where do I find
my “Classic Man” before someone else grabs him? I think I will recognize
him – wears glasses, Levi jeans, Rolex and keys to a BeeEmm – but where
should I start looking?
Another success story for your column. Remember the
very famous song “I got you babe” (Sunny and Cher) about two people who
fall in love and think love will pay the bills. Well it does not work in
the UK or America so why should it here?
Two years ago I met a bar girl from Isaan. She was
intelligent and very proud of her family - did not like her work - but
as many do, did it for survival reasons. She went back to her village
two months after I met her and has now her pride back and works in a
simple family business and earns less than 150 baht a day. I send her
money every month and visit her village three times a year - and when I
visit I am treated like a family member by all her family. We intend to
get married next year and yes you have got to provide for the one you
love no matter where you live in the world, but the rewards in Thailand
are well worth it.
Another success Story
Dear Another success Story,
Hillary always prints success stories, but the
successful ones are people who are happy in their relationship and do
not need advice from an ‘agony aunt’, so this is why you do not read
them so often. Your point is well taken and should be understood by
everyone who is contemplating entering a relationship anywhere in the
world. Love (alone) does not pay the bills. There is an obligation to
provide and I am very pleased to see that you have accepted that, and
that it is working out for you, but remember too that one couple is not
every couple. Interesting that you picked on a Sunny and Cher song –
remember what happened to them?
by Harry Flashman
A treasure trove in the junk department
All photographers start to get a collection of old photo gear.
Some of it has become surplus to requirements, some of it is
broken and not worth repairing or too difficult to get repaired
in this country, and much has become redundant because you have
changed camera systems, or even changed complete formats (6x6 to
35 mm for example).
I found myself in that situation after purchasing my
Panasonic Lumix Digital DMC-FZ50 (which is even still delighting me). It
took a year of deliberation (some might call it ‘hesitation’ or just
plain ‘dithering’) before I made the fateful decision to a) go digital
and b) go Lumix, after more than 20 years of using Nikon exclusively.
Of course, some of you will ask why didn’t I stay
with Nikon, with its full range of digital SLRs? Good question, but
easily answered. The upper level Nikons are now very expensive, and
whilst I had some excellent Nikon manual focus prime lenses, they were
not going to be all that compatible with the new Nikon digital auto-focus
That also brings in one of the salient reasons in the
purchase of the Lumix – the fantastic 35-420 Leica zoom lens that comes
with the Panasonic Lumix, coupled with the electronic anti-shake
technology so you can hand hold, even at 420 mm. With digitals these
days, I believe that you are best served with electronics from an
electronic company, with lenses from an optical company. The Lumix
definitely fits that.
Having made the irrevocable decision, I looked at my
now defunct Nikon 35 mm film system. I had two cameras, a much loved
FM2N, and an FA. The FM2N was the typical journalist’s workhorse with
more rolls of film through it than you’ve had hot dinners, whilst the FA
was the back up. Only thing was the FA was no longer working, having
some kind of internal problem, by which the mirror was locked in the
The lenses were a 24 mm wide angle, old and growing
its second crop of fungus (the first was cleaned off about five years
ago), a 50 mm ‘standard’ lens and a 135 mm ‘portrait’ lens. I also had a
spacer for macro work, which was also very old, but was the good one
that still allowed the auto exposure function to work.
These items were now surplus and it was going to be
very unlikely that I would use any of it again (although I would still
take the FM2N out of its bag and lovingly stroke it every so often).
It was at that stage that a good friend of mine
suggested I sell the surplus items, and said that he had excellent
results selling items on eBay in the UK. He was returning to the UK
himself and offered to sell them, and I thought, “Why not? I’m getting
nothing for them sitting in the old camera bag.”
He had been back a couple of weeks when I got the
That little lot came to 325 pounds sterling, which at
the current exchange rates was over 20,000 baht, which certainly made
purchase of the Lumix a breeze (duty-free price).
What made the exercise even more astounding, was the
number of ‘watchers’ who had been looking as the bids went in on eBay.
14 looking at a broken FA and someone who paid almost 2,000 baht for it.
The lenses all went for very good money, though I would have thought the
135 mm would have been more desirable than the 50 mm, but the 24 mm did
attract the highest bid, as I thought it would.
The moral to this tale, is to look at the old camera
gear, broken or otherwise and clear out the cupboard and sell it on
eBay. You will get more than you ever imagined, but it certainly helped
having a friend who was a regular eBay user and stationed in the UK.
Watchers Bids £
FA 14 7 28
FM2N 39 13 65
Spacers 16 5 22
24 mm 40 23 108
50 mm 55 13 68
135 mm 17 5 34
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
UK Company Defined Benefit Pensions:
Should I stay …or should I go now? Part 2
Advantages and disadvantages
of moving your pension to a QROPS
Taking a holistic approach to pension planning is vitally
important and there are many factors to consider. Transferring a pension to a
Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) means that an individual
is able to design a succession plan, ensuring they can secure benefits after
death to their spouse and any children. On top of this, an individual can take
control over his or her pension and, with a QROPS, there is a wider choice of
investments available with no limit to the size of funds which can be
Once the individual decides to draw their pension, income it
is paid out of the pension investment fund, free of UK tax, and on death, the
remainder of the fund value is available to whoever the member nominates,
totally free of Inheritance Tax.
Tax is an important consideration. Even though the member
might be non-UK resident, any pension coming from a UK registered pension scheme
will be subject to UK income tax. It is therefore important to understand if the
member’s new country of residence has a double taxation agreement with the UK,
QROPS schemes are probably the best opportunity expatriates
have had in a very long time. Not only do they maximise potential benefits but
they also increase flexibility. So even if an individual’s pension is held in a
Defined Benefits Scheme (DBS), as long as the member receives professional
advice and is in a position to be able to weigh up the pros and cons of the
proposed transfer, a QROPS may still be worthy of consideration.
It is important that the company you use has extensive
experience in QROPS and can show they have successfully moved every type of UK
pension offshore, including Final Salary, Group Money Purchase and Money
Purchase plans, plus Protected Rights plans and AVC’s. Included in these pension
transfers should be transfers out of Civil Service pensions and Teachers
Pensions, and also transfers of pensions in drawdown, and transfers of final
salary pensions in payment.
Your advisor should also produce a detailed Pension Transfer
Report including, if applicable, critical yield analyses. These are the amounts
your fund must grow at per annum to match your final salary pension, both pre-
and post-retirement. The Pension Transfer Report will provide you with all the
information you require to make an informed decision on whether to transfer your
pension or not. Below is the ABC of QROPS:
A comparison of UK Pension
Plans to QROPS + A more detailed explanation of the benefits of each of the 12
1. If you leave your funds in a UK Pension fund, the
subsequent pension income is UK taxable regardless of where you are living in
the world. QROPS is paid offshore tax free. However, if you live elsewhere in
the world outside the UK, you are responsible for declaring your QROPS income
for tax purposes where you reside. Properly structured this could result in you
paying significantly less tax.
Provided your income is kept within Government Actuarial
Department (GAD) limits, you may move your pension back to a UK pension scheme
at any time without penalty, should you ever decide to repatriate.
2. When you purchase an annuity your pension fund goes to the
annuity provider, and when you die nothing is returned to your family or estate.
With a QROPS you control the fund and 100% of the remainder passes to your
family or estate on death, 100% free of Inheritance Tax. Any pension fund
transfer into a QROPS is IHT free from Day One.
3. The Trustees of a QROPS are bound to act within the
“Spirit of Co-operation” as agreed with HMRC when the QROPS was approved, and
provide an “income for life”. Once you have been abroad 5 years, however, there
is no reporting of your income taken from your plan to HMRC, and you are not
bound by GAD limits.
4. There are strict guidelines governing UK pensions. A QROPS
can invest anywhere, all held in Trust and thus avoiding IHT.
5. A typical final salary scheme will pay your spouse 50% of
your pension if you die. With a Personal Pension Plan, if you select this option,
it will reduce how much the plan pays you from inception. With a QROPS the
residual fund can pass 100% to your spouse on death, allowing them to re-invest
maintaining 100% of the income if they wish, or just spend it.
6. If you have the option to take a UK pension early, because
actuarially you will live longer from when you have started drawing your pension,
the UK pension will pay you less initially, thus reducing your pension by 5% to
6% for every year you have brought forward the drawdown. A QROPS can be taken
from age 55 with no actuarial reduction for taking an early income.
7. A UK pension must purchase an annuity by age 75, depriving
your estate of any residual value. With a QROPS you are never compelled to
purchase an annuity, however, you can if you wish.
8. If the UK employer or ex-employer that holds your company
pension scheme goes into liquidation then your pension can go with it. Hundreds
of thousands of UK pensioners have lost their entire pension plans, and the
levels of compensation that the PPF will pay out could be as low as 30% of the
With QROPS the funds are held in a Personal Portfolio Bond in
the Isle of Man which has the oldest Parliament in the world in continuous
existence. Also, the island has been awarded the highest Sovereign Credit Rating
“AAA” from Standard and Poor’s as well as Moody’s.
Furthermore, to ensure the protection of the policyholder’s
interests, a statutory offshore policyholder protection scheme is operated on
the Isle of Man. The Life Assurance (Compensation of Policyholders) Regulations
1991 protects investors with Isle of Man-based insurance companies to levels at
least equal to that available in other financial jurisdictions worldwide. The
scheme protects investors in the unlikely event of an Isle of Man-based
insurance company being unable to satisfy its claims. The scheme pays up to 90%
of the liability of the insurer.
9. Traditional UK pensions hold all assets in GBP. In a QROPS
you can hold assets relevant to where you are resident and avoid the risk of
10. Both UK pension schemes and QROPS allow a 25% tax free
lump sum to be taken at retirement. However, a UK scheme may insist you wait for
the scheme retirement age before you receive it. With a QROPS it is your choice,
and you may also defer the income after taking the 25% tax free lump sum.
11. QROPS give a much higher level of life assurance cover
giving your loved ones greater financial protection in the event of your
untimely death before retirement.
12. A final salary pension or a purchased annuity is deemed
“secured” and cannot be commuted. A QROPS fund is deemed “unsecured” and if your
doctor tells you that you only have 1 year to live you may encash the entire
fund, 50% of the fund if married.
The disadvantages of
transferring your pension to a QROPS
There are 2 main disadvantages of moving your pension to a
1/ Trust Fees – You will have to pay the QROPS Trustees a
management fee - this should be no more than GBP 1,250 per annum. However, the
larger the pension transfer amount, the smaller this fee becomes percentage
2/ If you transfer a final salary scheme you lose the
“guarantee” of the income increasing every year
Just to cover my backside, I must add that not all of the
advantages or disadvantages will apply to everybody.
Pensions are, understandably, an emotive subject. It is what
you are going to live off for the rest of your life so you must get it right. It
will cost you nothing to get advice. It might cost you everything if you do not.
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]
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Chiang Mai
The Crazies: US, Mystery/ Sci-Fi/
Thriller – A remake of George Romero’s 1973 film, by director Breck Eisner,
the son of Disney’s Michael Eisner. Definitely not a Disney movie! What is
it? It’s part zombie movie, part apocalyptic bioterror, part military
conspiracy thriller. Reviews say it’s tense, nicely shot, and uncommonly
intelligent. A husband and wife in a small Midwestern town find themselves
battling for survival as their friends and family descend into madness when
a mysterious toxin in the water supply turns everyone exposed to it into
mindless killers and the authorities leave the uninfected to their certain
doom. Rated R in the US for bloody violence and language; 18+ in Thailand.
Mixed or average reviews.
Agora: Spain, Adventure/ Drama/ History/ Romance – In
fourth-century Alexandria, Egypt, a slave turns to the rising tide of
Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while also falling in love
with his master, the famous female philosophy professor and atheist Hypatia
of Alexandria. Only mixed or average reviews – but I highly recommend it; I
think it’s a truly well-done epic in the old style, but a lot more
thoughtful. At Vista only, with thanks for bringing this beautiful and
provocative film to Chiang Mai. I was fascinated.
Legion: US, Action/ Fantasy/ Horror/ Thriller – In the
first minute, the angel Michael falls to earth and then cuts off his wings.
God, who has given up on mankind, gave him a command that he didn’t want to
do, as he thinks there’s still hope for us. The first 40 minutes are
terrific – evocative and stylish. Then I suggest you leave. With a quite
impressive Paul Bettany. Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence, and
language; 18+ in Thailand. Generally unfavorable reviews.
Kick-Ass: US/ UK, Action/ Comedy/ Drama – An unnoticed
high school student and comic book fan decides one day to become a super-hero,
even though he has no powers, training, or meaningful reason to do so. It’s
been hailed as a rollicking, virtuoso comic-book adaptation that fizzes with
originality, feisty wit, and an unexpected degree of heart. With Nicolas
Cage, to boot. Rated R in the US for strong brutal violence throughout,
pervasive language, sexual content, nudity, and some drug use - some
involving children. 18+ in Thailand. Generally favorable reviews. Vista also
has a Thai-dubbed version.
9 Wat / Secret Sunday: Thai, Suspense/ Horror – A
young man unwillingly takes a journey to visit nine different temples in
order to clean up his bad karma. He is accompanied by his girlfriend and a
young monk to do the chanting. But during the journey horrifying acts done
in their previous lives reveal themselves, and the more they try to clean up
the bad karma by making merit, the closer they get to “THEM.” Rated 18+ in
Big Boy: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – A young man from
the country moves to Bangkok, under the premise of taking care of his ailing
grandfather, to pursue his dream of becoming a B-Boy dancer (breakdancer).
It turns out his grandfather at one time pursued dancing himself, but failed
to achieve his dreams.
The Princess and the Frog: US, Animation/ Family/
Fantasy/ Musical/ Romance – A fairy tale set in Jazz Age-era New Orleans
about a young girl and her fateful kiss with a frog prince who desperately
wants to be human again. I think Walt Disney has much to atone for in its
presentation of blacks over the years, and this has pretty much done the
trick. After a few squeamish moments at the start, the old Disney magic
takes over, and you’re treated to classic 2D animation in the tradition of
the great Disney fairy-tale films. Generally favorable reviews. Thai-dubbed
at Vista, no English subtitles.
Clash of the Titans: UK/ US, Action/ Adventure/
Fantasy – I didn’t find this film any sillier for our time than the
1981 Ray Harryhausen adventure starring Laurence Olivier was for its time. I
guess it depends on the mood you’re in. Starring Sam Worthington (the hero
of Avatar) as Perseus, Liam Neeson as Zeus, and Ralph Fiennes as
Hades, and I found it fun to see what these actors did when let loose on
these parts. Generally unfavorable reviews. Shown in 3D at Airport Plaza, 2D
at Vista. The 3D is “converted,” i.e., not originally shot in 3D.
Date Night: US, Action/ Comedy/ Romance – In New York
City, a case of mistaken identity turns a bored married couple’s attempt at
a glamorous and romantic evening into something more thrilling and
dangerous. Starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Mixed or average reviews.
Saranae Sib Lor: Thai, Adventure/ Comedy – With Mario
Maurer of Love of Siam fame, playing a young man whose father
suspects he’s gay and is sent off on a road trip in an old 10-wheel truck to
learn how to become a man. Immensely popular in Thailand.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
Here is board 6 from the Bridge Club of Chiang Mai pairs game
on April 11th. East-West were
vulnerable and East dealt. Consider how you would bid it with your favourite
partner. Almost all tables ended up in a diamond part score, probably with a
bidding sequence something like that shown below.
Personally, I think I would open the South hand 1N, but
no South did, all opening one diamond instead, presumably because of the
poor holding in the black suits. Playing in diamonds, South can make ten
tricks, losing only the king of trumps and two spade tricks. However, this
is clearly not the best contract because four spades will make, losing only
the same three tricks. So how do you get there? To do so, North must show he
has a five card spade suit, but how? If North bids 2S after South’s 1N, then
this is weak. On the other hand, North’s points and the quality and length
of the spade suit are not good enough to bid three spades. What North wants
is a bid of two and a half spades, but such a bid is not in the bidding box.
The solution is to play a very useful convention called
New Minor Forcing (NMF). There are many variations on this convention, but a
straightforward, easy to play version is as follows. Opener bids one of a
minor. Responder bids one of a major. Opener bids one no trump. Responder
then bids the other minor—this is NMF and is artificial (it does not mean
responder actually has that minor). It asks opener to bid two of responder’s
major with three cards in that suit, or to further describe his hand if he
does not. You can see how it works by looking at the bidding of this hand
playing NMF, as below:
East South West North
P 1D P 1S
P 1N P 2C
P 2S P 4S
North bids 2C over 1N, in spite of having a singleton
club. South then shows his three card spade suit and North can go to four
spades, knowing there is an eight card fit. This makes easily, even though
every finesse fails. All thanks to the NMF “two and a half spade” bid—a
convention well worth playing if you do not already do so.
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 : Deadly Songkran
By Shana Kongmun
Authorities campaigned heavily this year for a safer
Songkran and, to some small effect that campaign did work. Albeit, the death
toll was only 12 lower than last year, with a nationwide total of 361 dead
for the “7 deadly days” of Songkran, and a drop in accidents from 3,977 last
year to 3,516 this year. There is some controversy over how these numbers
are collected with reports circulating that only people who die at the scene
are counted, or that only those who die in the Government hospitals are
Most people agreed it was a slower Songkran than expected
for Chiang Mai, tourists stayed away for fear of bombs, or the heat, or the
haze. Or perhaps all of the above. The numbers were there, but down from
last year. There were many Thai tourists this year, presumably escaping the
Red Shirt blockade and violence on the streets of the capital. And overall,
the general feeling was genial, with many smiling, happy faces. It was nice
to see Thais good naturedly spraying each other with water, including one
patrolman seen sneakily pouring water over someone’s back and then looking
around innocently when done.
Sadly, this good feeling does not extend to the roads, or
to driving. The majority of accidents were young men on motorcycles with
officials reporting that 75 percent of accidents involved motorcycles and
most of those involved drunk driving and speeding. I had to explain to a
Thai friend of mine that young men in the western countries are also
notorious for their reckless driving. The difference being, of course,
increased enforcement by the police in western countries Zero tolerance,
patrols, and roadblocks for drunk drivers has decreased the accident and
death rate considerably in most western countries.
Thailand needs to get some kind of control over its
runaway accident rate. Every New Year, every Songkran we see the announced
death toll each day and each year a very high number of accidents and
fatalities. And given that most of these would be preventable were there
some kind of total crackdown on drunk driving, education in schools and
perhaps as in the West, arresting and instituting severe penalties for those
As the old saying goes, where there is a will, there is a
way. Surely such a high number of deaths and injuries must inspire the will
in someone in charge to find a way to end the carnage on the roads.
How does your garden grow?:
By Eric Danell,Dokmai Garden
Lichens on my longan
Europe, some gardeners carefully brush the limbs of apple trees to remove
lichens. They argue that thick layers might be hiding areas for pests.
Others simply”clean” their trees from”moss”. Real mosses are green spore
plants. Lichen (same word in Thai) is a fungus, which lives in symbiosis
with algae. The fungus provides minerals, and the algae can make sugars (photosynthesis),
and then they share delicacies. About 20 000 lichen species have been
described so far. Here in the Chiang Mai Valley we sometimes see lichens on
our fruit trees. However, they are quite small when compared to lichens
growing on trees at high elevations. In moist oceanic areas, such as New
Zealand and Norway, you have large specimens and many species, but also in
dry areas, like the high desert east of the Cascade Mountain Range in the
Pacific Northwest of the United States, there can be abundant lichen growth.
Deforestation and air pollution can wipe out entire species and dwarf the
struggling survivors. In fact, the presence of lichens, and their health, is
an excellent indicator of air quality. In the Chiang Mai Valley, we have a
very poor lichen community, which coincides with the poor air pollution
There is no need to”clean” your trees of epiphytes (plants
and lichens that grow on trees). They add beauty and biodiversity to your
garden, and the tiny miracles are as lovely as the large ones. We all hope
that within the coming years we shall see a significant decrease in air
pollution, and observe more, larger and healthier lichens on our garden
trees. To measure this, I propose that the readers of the Chiang Mai Mail
take a picture of a tree limb that is at least 5 years old (to give it a
fair time to allow lichen establishment). Then, take another picture of the
exact same spot each year over the coming five years. If the air pollution
indexes go down, then you would see that on your lichen community also and
perhaps you can share your picture series with the journalists?
Life in Chiang Mai:
By Colin Jarvis
I don’t know about you but I hate people who have double
standards. Often they are the type of people who say, “Do as I say, not as I
do”. Or they are the kind of people who complain about other people’s
dishonesty and then fiddle their own expenses at work.
I was therefore horrified to discover that I, too, suffer
from double standards.
When I married my current wife I inherited three
wonderful children, two boys and one girl. The boys are seventeen and
fifteen and the girl is eleven. The eldest boy is showing a serious interest
in girls. I hope he shows them proper respect but at the same time I hope he
has a good deal of fun. The main point is that am quite happy for him to
choose his own girlfriends and I have very few worries about his first
forays into romance. This is not because I feel he is particularly mature,
and this is the awful bit, it is simply because he is a boy.
I realised my double standards when I thought about how I
will react when my daughter starts dating in a few years time. I feel I want
to insist on having a complete background check on any potential boyfriend.
Perhaps it is natural to feel so protective and perhaps, when my daughter is
older I will not feel quite so protective. As things are at the present I
recognize that my feelings are fairly normal but I do not like having these
When I was first courting my wife and we realised our
relationship was serious, I was introduced to the family. The two boys were
great. We went and did many activities together that helped us bond. The
boys seemed to accept me very readily and I was very relieved. My future
daughter, on the other hand, would not acknowledge my presence. She would
not even look at me. She was obviously unsettled by my appearance. I decided
that the only thing to do would be to wait for her to come towards me. After
a week or so I knew I had broken through when she came up and punched me.
Since that time the boys and I have had good times and
bad times. They are both wishing to express their independence and I, as
their guardian, have to try to ensure they do not get into too much trouble
or danger. Ann, on the other hand has given me no problems whatsoever. She
was not aware that I have a particular interest in Thai classical music and
dance so you can imagine my delight when she expressed a wish to learn these
two disciplines. We have a very close relationship and I was thrilled when
she asked if she could call me “Daddy”.
I have often heard people talk about the special
relationship between a father and a daughter and I believe I am beginning to
understand how strong and powerful such a relationship can be. Suddenly
acquiring children, not of one’s own making, can be a difficult experience.
There is the desire to be loved and respected by the children but there is
also the duty of care and the need to ensure the right level of discipline
and encouragement. There is nowhere to learn this and to me, as a new parent,
it has at times been very difficult.
I doubt that I am a very good parent; I still have a
great deal to learn. However I am finding the experience extremely rewarding
even though it is sometimes exhausting, frustrating, even terrifying.
I just hope, but as I become wiser and more skilful at
being a parent I am able to do a decent job and help my new children lead
useful and satisfying lives.
I hope I am also able to rid myself of my double
standards now that I am aware of them.
By Jane Doh
If you are looking for a fun day out, then may I
recommend Horizon Village & Resort. I recently visited there and really
enjoyed the peaceful setting. Located about 10 kilometres from downtown
Chiang Mai, on the Chiang Mai – Doi Saket Highway, Horizon Village offers a
lot in its tranquil surroundings. Situated in a beautiful Botanical Garden,
complete with giant topiary, the resort offers various activities such as
massage, cycling, swimming, canoeing and paddleboats. It even has its own
museum and zoo. I was quite surprised to see swans too, swimming happily on
the lake. It really has to be seen to be believed. Day visitors are welcome,
but the resort has accommodation, as well as facilities for camping. For
more information: www.horizonvillage.net. I particularly recommend checking
out their botanical garden link: http://www.tweechol botanicgarden.com/ as
it should be of interest to gardeners.