The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
Maintaining a well-oiled machine
Lisa Stubbs, an
Australian journalist, visited my hospital in Pattaya, which is a good
example of Thailand’s health care providers, and was moved to write the
“Most blokes take better care of their cars than their
own bodywork, and often it can take a major parts failure before they
consider any regular maintenance.
“But an annual medical is just as essential to ongoing
good health as regular servicing is to the smooth running of a motor vehicle,
and combining an overseas holiday with a comprehensive check-up can be just
what the doctor ordered to maintain the male machine in peak performance.
“Thailand is building a reputation internationally for
its preventive health care, offering comprehensive health checks that are
more like a 100,000 kilometer service than the usual ‘grease and oil change’
most Australians expect of an annual medical at their local GP.
“The tune-up at this hospital even comes with a patient
‘logbook’ – a health portfolio detailing the results of all the tests and
doctor’s advice for follow-up treatment if necessary – to take home for
“Hospital director, Dr Pichit Kangwolkij, is seeing a
growing market for the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya’s check-up services, which
are so highly regarded that patients are now flying in from all over the
world just for an annual medical.
“An annual check-up is the best way to find out if there
are any hidden or insidious diseases, such as early stages of cancer, heart
disease, pulmonary tuberculosis, diabetes or hypertension,” he said.
“Early diagnosis and treatment will yield much better
“As growing numbers of Australians are discovering,
medical tourism offers a world of difference in health care that goes beyond
well-priced dental work and cosmetic surgery.
“For not much more than the cost of a specialist
consultation at home, the hospital will provide the sort of detailed check-up
that is usually only available to corporate high-flyers in Australia.
“This is Rolls Royce service at a Toyota price, and in
the five-star hotel atmosphere of the hospital, awestruck Australians are
finding they get maximum mileage for their outlay.
“With all the efficiency of an Indy car pit crew, the
hospital’s highly trained medical staff can provide in one morning, and
under one roof, a series of specialist consultations and a battery of tests
that could take months to carry out in Australia.
“The most basic medical at less than $A 100 includes a
chest x-ray (this alone in Australia costs around $A 90), a physical
examination - blood pressure, pulse and vision test along with body mass
index measurement to check the patient’s weight is proportionate to his
“There is also an ECG, to check the heart is ticking over
as it should, a urine test to check for diabetes and other health issues,
and a range of blood tests covering cholesterol, kidney and liver function,
and PSA levels to screen for prostate cancer.
“If snoring is an issue – and it can be more of a health
concern than simply a source of annoyance for a long-suffering partner – a
check-up might be upgraded to include a stop-off at the ear, nose and throat
“The results of the blood tests are available in an hour
– in less time than some patients can spend sitting in their GP’s waiting
room back in Australia.
“A self-confessed ‘techno freak’, British tourist,
Michael Bailey, who underwent leading-edge SuperSight surgery to profoundly
improve his vision, found even the pre-op medical an eye opener in itself.
“In this high-tech environment, the gentle and caring
medical staff are as much a stand-out feature as the hospital’s gleaming
marble interiors and chandeliers.
“Thai people are known for their caring nature, and in
our hospital environment, patients get a double dose of care,” said Dr
“For those who want to return home looking as good as
they feel, the hospital offers dental services - and a range of surgical and
non-surgical cosmetic treatments, including hair transplants - at a fraction
of the cost of similar procedures in Australia.”
Thank you, Lisa, that was an Australian’s view of
services we have come to accept as “normal”, but compared to overseas,
treatments in Thailand are exceptional.
Sisters looking for a home
Hi, I’m Noi Nah’s sister Malagor. I’m darker than her so it’s easy
to tell us apart. I also like to lead an active lifestyle and am
very healthy at just 10 months old and have all my shots etc. too.
We would be happy together or apart. Just come down and visit us at
the shelter asap and we can go straight home! If you think either
Noi Nah or Malagor could be the right one for you – contact the
shelter English (08 47 52 52 55) or Thai language (08 69 13 87 01)
to make an appointment to meet them at the shelter, e-mail: [email protected]
or visit the website for further information.
I’m Noi Nah, I’m just about year old and I’d love
someone to take me home. I need an active lifestyle but I also like
settling down for cuddles with my favourite people. I am a lovely
healthy little girl with bright eyes and a short tan and white coat
that won’t need any grooming! I have all my shots and am sterilised.
If you really want to have some fun you can adopt me and my sister
Malagor (below) together, we look similar and like alot of the same
thing. P.S The woman in the shot with me would like you all to know
that she is not up for adoption at this time.
Heart to Heart
I think the maid at work has taken a shine to me. Big smiles every day,
and she likes to spend time cleaning around my desk and rests her hand
on my shoulder while I am sitting there, and wants to chat with me. I
thought I might be imagining all this, but the other day I came in and
my desk had been cleaned and tidied, with a little note to say she had
done it for me. This is all very sweet, but I am happy with my Thai GF
and don’t need another one. How do I let her down gently?
All you have to do is be polite, but don’t encourage her. When she comes
to clean around your desk, get up and go to the rest room. She will get
the message without your being rude to her. You sound like a nice person,
so I can see why she would be attracted to you. Shame you’ve already got
a Thai GF, I could be tempted to clean up your desk myself.
What do I do about my girl who won’t stop working in the bar, even
though I have offered to set her up in a nice little condo and pay her a
wage of 30,000 baht a month for the nine months I am away? I reckon it’s
a pretty good deal, but she doesn’t want it, always making excuses and
then saying we’ll talk about it next time I come over. When I say I want
her out of the bar and she doesn’t have to work, she says 30,000 isn’t
enough. I’m confused. Are they all like this? This is the best one I
have ever found, but I’m stymied. What’s the answer Hillary?
The short answer is ‘run away’ my Petal. Her feelings for you are not
the same as your feelings for her. Not all girls who work in a bar are
like this, but this one is probably more honest than many others. Rather
than take your money she has stated her preference quite plainly. For
all you know, she may already be receiving “wages” from other foreign
visitors. And more than you are offering. Not unheard of, you know!
Once a week I have a night out with the boys at work. Usually this means
I get home in the wee small hours (2 a.m. most days) and sometimes I am
a little the worse for wear as a couple of the lads are top drinkers. My
girlfriend is starting to crack up a bit about this one night a week. I
reckon she is being unreasonable, as I used to get home even later
before the crackdowns in the past year. What can I tell her to make her
see that this is just harmless fun with the lads and is a break for me
from family responsibilities?
I want you to change roles with your girlfriend for one night. She is
going to go out with the girls from work and is going to come home at
something past two, decidedly the worse for wear. In other words, very
drunk. Are you going to sit back happily and let this happen every week?
Will you happily sit at home and not wonder where she is? Will you sit
there calmly watching TV soap operas about cheating husbands and wives
and not worry (that’s all there is on Thai TV unfortunately)? Or are you
going to crack up about it? It is only Scottish stags that are the
“monarchs of the glen”. I think you should reconsider your
responsibilities to the young lady. And some people told me that
chauvinism was dead!
I am on a long stay holiday here in Thailand, and I must say that I have
been made very welcome by everyone. After getting more than slightly
tipsy the other evening, I wonder if you could advise me on the alcohol
content of some of the local brews? During the night in question which
began at 6.30 p.m. I only had four pints of Heineken Draught, followed
by a couple of Tigers and two Leos. I shared in a bottle of some white
wine with my father and my stepmother and followed that up with another
two Leos. This was over six hours but I suddenly began to feel ill and
my ability on the pool table decreased so much that my father beat me.
My question is, should I have stuck to one brand, or should I only go by
the percent alcohol? As I write this, the following morning, I have a
large headache, so I need to know the answer as soon as possible please.
Tiger (not Woods)
Dear Tiger (not Woods),
I think the headache probably came from banging your head during the
resuscitation efforts after you were pulled from the bottom of the beer
mug. You weren’t drinking the alcohol, you were drowning in it! Tell
your father to look after you a little better next time you go out. Or
was there a wager on the outcome of the pool tournament? As they say,
“Age, experience and animal cunning beat youth and enthusiasm any day!”
by Harry Flashman
Videography Part 2
couple of weeks ago, I began with the following - I do not claim
to be an expert in shooting video, but there are certain aspects
that are true for all types of photography.
Let us begin with one very important fact. Still
photography freezes a moment in time, while video photography tells a
moving picture story. Try not to shoot ‘stills’ with a video camera and
your videos will start to look professional immediately.
Video work, however, is much like still camera work -
the results you get will depend upon your knowledge of technique, and
your ability to work out “how” to produce the images you want.
Here are a few more “rules” which can help you
produce better video. Firstly, no rule is absolute, but you should have
a good reason to break it. Having said that, let’s look at a few basics.
Just like still photography, make the subject the ‘hero’.
Fill the entire screen with your important subject matter. Look at the
TV soaps if you want to see how to fill up the TV screen. Empty space is
Your video camera is recording ‘real’ life, and in
real life, walls are vertical, doors are upright and horizons are
horizontal. Avoid the ‘arty’ effect of strange angles. One way to do
this is to use a tripod. While tripods are very effective pieces of
equipment for still photography, I think they should almost be mandatory
for the amateur videographer.
Another area that is often neglected in the
excitement of the shoot is the background. If it is disturbing for you
while you are shooting, it will be worse for the people who will watch
your video later. Movements and bright lights, cars going past, people
walking through the scene, stopping, gawking - they are all distractions
and detractions. It is better to stop filming and move somewhere without
the confusion behind your principal subjects. You can solve most
background problems by moving the subject, the camera or changing the
angle of view. Always check the distracting background details. You
can’t get rid of them after the shot has been recorded.
Since the majority of your videos will include people,
there are a few recommendations here too. When shooting people, place
the subject’s eyes one-third down from the top of the frame no matter
the type of shot. It is that old rule of thirds again. Dead central is
Another shot to avoid is one with large distances
between people. Again, look at the soaps on TV. The people are really
standing much closer than they would in real life (in each other’s
personal space in fact), but if you have them a meter or so apart, you
lose ‘contact’ in the video.
You should also shoot people in full or three-quarter
profile to let the viewers see both eyes. The one eyed effect does not
look good. Again, look at TV. When two people are talking, the camera
shoots over the shoulder of person one to shoot the second person face-on
to the camera. When the first person replies, the shot is taken the
other way, over the shoulder of the second person. You can also take
shots of the person who is listening to the other speak. These are
sometimes called ‘noddies’, because the person will be nodding while
listening to the other speaker.
Video is in color and you should always remember the
impact that color has on any shot. The most important thing is that your
viewer’s attention is drawn to the most colorful areas of the scene. To
avoid visual distractions, you must be on the lookout for colorful
objects which may divert the attention of your audience. Either have the
brightest colors or lights in the shot area that is the focus of
attention, or get them right away altogether. The same rule goes for
light and dark areas on the screen. If you place a dark subject next to
a bright object, your viewers will look at the brighter area even though
the dark subject is the main center of interest.
Practice this weekend.
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
We are in a Depression… part 1
And I am not talking about the weather. The economists in the
world knew there was something wrong years ago but reverted to the age old tack
of get the consumer to spend and the problem will just go away. However, they
did begin to raise eyebrows when oil passed USD150 per barrel. Even the
optimists figured something was not quite right and worked out that if this was
maintained there would not be enough petrol left for everyone. Put it another
way, there is not enough oil on the planet to allow American-like consumption
for all 6.8 billion of us.
That was the first wake up call. Then came Dubai. This
seemingly Utopian ideal was seen to have little or even no risk as it had the
backing of the region’s oil. Thus, it came as a great shock to the world when
Dubai World stopped paying off its debts. After that came Greece which announced
it would not reduce its deficits and then it would…
This did not produce the headlines it should have done. In
fact, it was only the good old Wall Street Journal that pointed out there could
be further problems which are presently hidden. It also threw up this little
tidbit: If the markets could force Greece to promise to slash its deficit then
why could they not do this to other western countries like America, UK, France,
Things look grim. It is not one problem but many. It is not
just Greece and the other aforementioned countries but potentially most of the
western world. We have demographics not seen for centuries where an older
population keeps getting older and the younger generation is not keeping pace
with it; i.e., less are paying for more. Sometime soon, we will not be able to
pay for pensions and other costs that governments are continually committed to.
Let’s not stop there but continue with the realism. There is
not enough potable water in the world to go around and, as seen above, energy is
not getting any cheaper. The prices for these and other essential consumables
will keep going up.
We now a have looming catastrophe with cash as the only
people who are making any money out of the Quantitative Easing (QE) are the
bankers who are making it very difficult for people to actually get the money
required for growth. This therefore begs the question, if the hoped for recovery
is dependent of people being able to borrow what will the outcome be if the
lenders refuse to give it to you?
Before answering this let us look at the largest economy the
world has ever known. Ever since the end of World War II, America has been the
place where people buy, buy, buy. It has created wealth for the rest of the
world and most, if not all, emerging markets have counted on this to expand and
grow their manufacturing base. The same goes for resources. Over the last half
century most America has imported more resources than anyone else. What now
though? As has been seen from holiday sales results, Americans do not have the
purchasing power they once had.
It is not surprising really; it had to end sometime and with
what has happened over the last couple of years it is not a shock it has
occurred now. However, what is interesting is that the American buyer has
managed to keep buying for so long. As reported recently by Agora Finance, the
average worker in the US was earning USD325 per week in 1973. This year, when
taking inflation into account, this amount is now only USD275. So, he is earning
less but buying more? How? Credit is the word you are looking for. Americans
wanted things and when it got too expensive to make it themselves they paid
others to do it. They had more than they could dream of and are now, literally,
paying for it.
Let there be no misunderstanding: the old world is weighed
down with so much debt that it is amazing it is still standing. There can only
be two solutions to this debt and that is either depression or high inflation.
With the US government in hock to a tune of well over one hundred trillion US
Dollars you can rest assured the Fed will attempt to reduce this amount via
monetary inflation. It has to. In the last two years, monetary expansion has
gone from over USD825 billion to over USD1.9 trillion. As Bill Bonner says, “If
the Federal Reserve does not inflate away this mountain of debt, the biggest
sovereign default in history is guaranteed.”
This and also the fact the US as a country has imported more
and more and made less and less. A couple of years ago the trade gap was almost
USD900 billion. What does this mean to the rest of the world? Well, now that the
people of the emerging markets are closing the gap it could mean a lot. These
people save more and work longer hours for a lot less money. However, they are
now in a position to be able to buy more as well. This is all good for their
economies but not for America as they are also dubious about the US Dollar.
These countries have not really needed emergency QE whereas most of the old
world economies are in the process of going bankrupt. What are the politicians
doing about it? Throwing more and more money at it! This is not the answer. The
solution is unpleasant and painful but, as can be seen by what has happened in
Germany, the short, sharp agony gets it over and done with quickly and
efficiently. What to do? Cut public spending in all sectors. More of Europe
That wonderful old sage Dr. Marc Faber said recently in a TV
interview that the present financial crisis has been caused by “excessive credit
growth”. Although the private sector has, generally, managed to adjust and
reduced leverage it has been overshadowed by the world’s governments non-stop
spending. Amazingly, the total credit of the American economy, as a percentage
of the US economy is still growing. Officially, when you compare now to the
Great Depression, the debt to GDP is 375%. It should be noted that in 1929, it
was only 186% and, in those days there was no Medicare, Medicaid, Freddie Mac,
Fannie Mae etc. If you include these then the debt to GDP ratio is over 600%!
This is physically impossible to maintain. If you carry on printing money then
the fiscal deficit will go up and, as mentioned above, the interest rates will
rise as well. This will mean the interest payments on the governmental debt will
mushroom and in a few years time these payments alone will be nearly 50% of US
As Dr. Faber says, if they want to get out of this mess then
they will have to “monetize”, create yet more stimulus packages and this will
lead to high inflation and so reduce the standard of living.
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
Best of their genre
The Big Heat (Dir: Fritz Lang, 1954) and
Ulzana’s Raid (Dir: Robert Aldrich, 1972)
I recommended movies by ‘best of their genre’ and last week I saw two of
those again, available at Chiang Mai’s DVD Film and Music shop at Suthep
Road. The re-viewings confirmed that they have stood the test of time like
all great works of art should.
This is partly because both are directed by cinematic
masters (with uneven outputs) capable of directing without undue flourish or
bravura. The films start with almost mundane simplicity, establishing the
situations against which the strong dramas and emotions unfold.
Both have quite conventional story lines, dominated by
takes on ‘revenge’, below which Lang and Aldrich delve to plumb the depths
of human existence.
A warning; I might have written depravity and evil,
rather than existence. Being more specific would have highlighted the grim
reality presented. Lang’s noirish view of despair is very much in line with
other works, notably his best American film Fury, which might have served as
a film title here.
The setting is mid-fifties U.S.A. where a dedicated cop
(Glenn Ford) works – somewhat truculently – in a force he knows to be
corrupt and in the pockets of a big time gangster. When his wife is killed
by the mob he embarks on a one man mission to rid the city of its scum.
Along the way people get hurt, some hideously, but the man is driven by
forces beyond anyone’s comprehension.
Banyon, the cop, quiet and loving, has been transformed
into an avenging fury with feelings like tempered steel. Nothing matters,
even his likely death, and as such he is the precursor of many an inferior
film’s hero. Like Spencer Tracy in Fury he has died ‘inside’ and like the
pathetic murderer in Lang’s M he awaits some kind of salvation.
Aldrich like his contemporary, the equally variable
Nicholas Ray, was a great Hollywood maverick who occasionally worked well in
the system. His best movies, including Autumn Leaves, Kiss Me Deadly,
Twilight’s Last Gleaming and this western, are genre pieces. In Ulzana he
enjoys a fine and literate but never literary screenplay by Alan Sharp,
written during the death throes of America’s war against Vietnam and turns
it into a harsh and melancholy view of the seemingly inexplicable clash of
cultures. A clash understood only by the scout McIntosh and not by the young
army lieutenant (son of a preacher) whose mission is to lead the horse
soldiers to capture or kill Ulzana and his band of Apaches.
Like Lang, Aldrich sets the cosy background. In this case
an army fort (not suburban bliss) and then lets loose the dogs of war. What
the troopers are about to meet is the inexplicable and only the scout (Burt
Lancaster at his majestic best) accepts that the inexplicable is just that.
He does not try to ‘understand’, but accepts the horrors, the danger and
acts accordingly. Hopefully, he says, in anticipation of disaster.
The lieutenant (a perfectly cast Bruce Davison) is thrown
into a baptism of fire. Few films have depicted the cruelties of conflicts
with such appalling directness. The journey in search of Ulzana and his
braves is akin to Banyon’s in that it can only end in death(s) and the
odyssey is one of power and complexity.
The movies offer a wonderful comparison in technique,
rhythm and style. Lang, like such fellow Europeans as Billy Wilder, Douglas
Sirk and Max Ophuls, works classically within the frame. Enticing us in so
that nothing exists beyond the fluid series of images with which we are
confronted. They offer us a confined, intense world.
Aldrich, like Ray and John Ford and the incomparable
Howard Hawks suggests a wider world, hinting at complexities and
possibilities outside the ‘frame’. A more ‘exterior’ view of the world, less
intense and ‘interior’. You pay your money and make your choice. I’m greedy,
I want both.
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Chiang Mai
Robin Hood: US, Action/ Drama –
Robin Hood as gladiator, brought to life by Russell Crowe, all grunting and
scowling. There are lots of swashes buckled and swords clanked. This re-visit
to Sherwood’s most famous forest is brought to you by Ridley Scott,
responsible for Alien and Gladiator. It’s something of an
origin story, finding historical context by telling of Hood’s early days as
an archer in the service of King Richard, before he became the man in tights
redistributing the crown’s wealth. The Airport Plaza version has digital
sound and image in their Cinema 3. Early reviews: Generally favorable.
The Bounty Hunter: US, Action/ Comedy – Gerard Butler
plays a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter who gets his dream job when he is
assigned to track down his bail-jumping ex-wife (Jennifer Aniston).
Complications, as they say, ensue. Critics say the two leads are as
attractive as ever, but the script doesn’t know what to do with them.
Generally unfavorable reviews.
A Nightmare on Elm Street: US, Fantasy/ Horror –. A
group of suburban teenagers share one common bond: they are all being
stalked by Freddy Krueger, a horribly disfigured killer who hunts them in
their dreams. As long as they stay awake, they’re okay. Critics have
not been kind to this remake, saying that it lives up to its title in the
worst possible way. They say it’s visually faithful but lacking the depth
and subversive twists that made the original so memorable. Rated R in the US
for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror, and language.
18+ in Thailand. Generally unfavorable reviews.
Ong-Bak 3: Thai, Action – Tony Jaa in the historical
martial-arts conclusion of the two-part prequel to the Ong-Bak movie
that made him a star in 2003. Rated 18+ in Thailand. It’s sickeningly
I really object to the level of masochism displayed by Tony
Jaa in his latest film. It really is too much. For a good half hour at the
beginning he is tortured over and over until he’s lifeless, then revived and
tortured some more, until his body is a broken, bleeding near-corpse. This
is truly alien to me, and I object to what he expects me as an audience
member to put up with. We’re not all as sadistic as Jaa is masochistic.
It seems personal. I’m sure his tortures reflect the way he
feels his critics have treated him, and the boss at the film studio that
withheld the money to finish Ong-Bak 2. I wouldn’t be at all
surprised if the chief torturer bears a remarkable physical resemblance to
the studio head.
When he finally recovers from the maulings and mutilation,
and gets revenge, I feel like he’s fantasizing getting back at all his real-life
Aside from some Buddhist nonsense and the torture, the
picture is fascinating. Jaa is a true artist, and has expanded the form of
the martial arts film in unforeseen ways, incorporating not only many
strands of martial arts disciplines, but also many strands of Thai culture,
and its dances and rituals and meditational poses. He again incorporates
traditional palace dance forms into this film, probably to the dismay of
action junkies. He is endlessly inventive, and brings unsurpassed energy,
athleticism, and zeal to his projects. And the films, which always have
their surreal qualities, are exceptional works of art.
He’s working out his own inner demons through his art,
especially his revenge fantasies for all his own real-life real or imagined
slights, but that’s what artists do.
Ip Man 2: Hong Kong, Action/ Biography/ History – The
second in a trilogy of semi-biographical martial arts films based on the
life of Ip Man (1893-1972), a grandmaster of the martial art Wing Chun. One
of his students was Bruce Lee. The film focuses on events in Ip’s life that
took place in the city of Foshan during the Second Sino-Japanese War, as Ip
Man grew up in a China torn by racial hatred, nationalistic strife, and
warfare. This biopic from director Wilson Yip dramatizes Ip’s life story.
Thai-dubbed only, and only at Airport Plaza.
Iron Man 2: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller –
Directed by Jon Favreau, starring Robert Downey Jr. It isn’t quite the
breath of fresh air that Iron Man was, but this sequel comes close,
with solid performances and an action-packed plot. Both theaters also have a
Thai-dubbed version. Mixed or average reviews.
Furry Vengeance: US, Comedy/ Family – A real estate
developer moves his family from Chicago to Oregon when his job calls for him
to oversee the building of a major housing development. But once there he
faces a unique group of protesters: local woodland creatures who don’t want
their homes disturbed. Look forward to 92 minutes of abuse from a stupid and
mean-spirited movie that’s one of the worst in recent memory. Generally
unfavorable reviews: 25/25 out of 100.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
This remarkable double slam swing from the English Bridge
Union Easter Festival of Bridge was reported by Andrew Robson. The hands and
the bidding at Table One are shown below. East dealt and East-West were
East South West North
1D 1S 2H 3S
4H 4N 6H P
P 6S P P
Dbl All pass
North’s jump to 3S was
preemptive. David Bakshi, sitting South, knew he was going to 6S as soon as
his partner showed spade support. However he hoped to deceive the opposition
about the very distributional nature of his hand by pretending to be
interested in how many aces his partner had and bidding Blackwood.
Eventually he got to 6S and East doubled.
West knew that a heart
would be ruffed, so led the king of diamonds instead. East overtook and led
a heart, which was trumped. Declarer pulled trumps, finishing in dummy,
ruffed a diamond to find out more about West’s distribution (singleton
diamond). Then he cashed one high club, crossed to dummy with another trump,
and led a club. Now for the critical decision—finesse for the queen of clubs
or go for the drop? Eventually he decided that West’s jump to 6H was more
consistent with a very long suit and short clubs and decided to finesse.
Doubled small slam made by North-South for 1210 points.
Now let’s see what
happened at Table 2. The bidding is shown below. South went to 6S as soon as
he heard about North’s spade support. West, hearing South’s confident bid
and thinking his hand useless for defence, decided to sacrifice in 7H. South
doubled for penalties.
East South West North
1D 1S 2H 3S
4H 6S 7H P
P Dbl All pass
South’s double as Lightner, asking for an unusual lead, normally dummy’s
first bid suit. Looking at his hand he thought South was void in diamonds
and led one. West won in hand with the king, pulled the trump (singular)
ending on board and played top diamonds to throw away his black suit losers.
The defence went to bed with their two black aces. Doubled grand slam made
by East-West for 2470 points, for a total swing between the two tables of
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
Is it just me,
or is it hot around here?
While a relative newbie to Chiang Mai, I have spent many
years in Thailand, albeit in more temperate climes than this. I understood
that Chiang Mai got hot in the summer. But I guess the realization of just
how hot that really was and hot completely will sapping it could be could
only be experienced.
Everyone I have talked to, and we all talk about the heat,
thankfully below 40 today, has been astonished at not only the temperatures,
but also the length of time the extreme heat has been hitting the North. The
Meteorological Department is warning about the heat wave and the heat
exhaustion and heat stroke that can go result from high temperatures..
Loose clothing, a hat, and plenty of water help but
really its best to just stay out of the sun during the heat of the day. I
drive a motorbike and have refrained from driving in the middle of the day
as my head feels like its boiling away inside an egg cup. The heat has made
people tired, listless and some a bit cranky. That is, when they can muster
up enough energy to act cranky.
Heat and drought go hand in hand. We’ve had a couple of
nice rains the past few days (and for that I am grateful, even just a couple
of degrees lower and I feel remarkably cheery) but the drought is quite
severe and, with a lower than average rainfall last rainy season and higher
than average temperatures, has reduced many farmers to desperate straits.
There are reports that 30 cows died in Mae Hong Son due to lack of feed from
the drought. And while 30 cows may not seem like much, I am sure to the
owners it is a devastating loss, probably one they cannot afford since they
clearly couldn’t afford to even buy feed for their cows.
This year has been an El Nino year.. The El Nino pattern
results in high temperatures and low rainfalls in Asia and heavy rainfall
and storms in the Americas. It is most obviously noted by the very high
water temperatures off the equatorial Pacfic Asia, and lower than normal
equatorial water temperatures in the Americas. Meteorologists have reported
a pattern of weakening of the El Nino, and hope to have a neutral pattern (ENSO)
by June. There is, however, a possibility that it could then shift to a La
Nina, where the pattern reverses and Asia sees heavy rains and increased
typhoons and the Americas sees drought.
Seems we can’t win either coming or going with the
weather this year.
How does your garden grow?:
By Eric Danell,Dokmai Garden
Organic fruits and vegetables
The use of artificial and potentially hazardous chemicals should be
abandoned in home gardens, where none of us depend on perfect roses, lawns
or fruits for our survival. In commercial gardens we can be more forgiving,
as the absence of a crop may crush the economy of an entire family. However,
selection of compounds and amounts of compunds used should always be made by
an educated mind. A promising trend is the increasing interest in organic
foods, both here in Thailand and abroad. This demands that we are prepared
to pay more for a smaller product.
Quite often we hear rumours that organic food is in fact
not organic at all. I guess an organic farmer bordering a farm with chemical
pesticide management will inevitably have traces on his products, which is
why it is important that such reports put the traces found into comparison
with dangerous levels. Also, you can make a visit to an organic farm. If
every leaf looks perfect, you have a reason to be suspicious, but if you see
holes in the leaves after insect bites, the farm might be truly organic. It
is also wise to chat with the staff. A couple of times an owner has praised
his organic products, while my Thai wife told me with a giggle afterwards
that the staff told her they have orders to spray like mad in the evenings.
Be aware that many nurseries spray their ornamental plants with strong
pesticides, because we, the buyers, won’t pay 50 Baht for a Hibsiscus with a
hole in the leaf. What seems to be currently lacking, is an organisation
that makes random and unannounced visits to farms to check if they follow
organic standards. Such an organisation could have a stamp, and buyers would
know that products with that stamp are reliable. As such standards and
organisations already occur in Europe, we can simply adopt their guidelines
and routines and get started. Are any of the Chiang Mai Mail’s Thai readers
Life in Chiang Mai:
By Brian Baxter
(A political fairy story that hopefully will never come true)
Once upon a time, when the world seemed a nicer place,
two young lads were sent away to different but equally posh and equally
expensive schools. Too expensive for ordinary people of course, but not for
the very grand and well heeled who do not mind spending the equivalent of a
British family’s yearly income on one son’s schooling. In fact that amount
of money (29,000 pounds, well over 40,000 dollars or one and a half million
baht) would feed a Burmese family for 100 years. And that’s maybe why
revolutions happen. But that is another story. And not make believe.
These nice boys met up much later and had very different
views about life, partly because one came from a cosmopolitan family and
went to the better school and the other was conventionally brain washed.
Even so they were quite drawn to each other, if only because of their posh
backgrounds and accents. After all, money talks. And often rather well,
don’t you think?
Each pursued successful careers and the conventional one
was even more successful because he hung around with old school friends and
had them over for drinks and many of them helped him in his business affairs
where he’d had a stroke of luck: the competition was so feeble and he’d
become head honcho and was called Posh One.
The second did well but because he was a little more
sophisticated (and had even married a high flying foreign woman who was
richer and more posh than he was) had not quite the same level of
acceptance. If his wife had not been so rich and clever, it would have been
even more of a problem, since being even a little exotic is frowned upon by
the British, especially their right wing press.
Years after their happy (and ‘expensive but worth it,
don’t you think?’) schooldays, the boys had the chance of going into
business together, taking over a once thriving restaurant that had fallen on
hard times during a recession. The problem was that Posh One was a raging
carnivore, who even approved of people hunting for their own food and
killing anything that they could find. He loved succulent flesh and fowl and
fish and thought “let them eat cake’ was one of the wittier sayings uttered
by a queen. He also believed implicitly in top tables for top people.
Posh Two on the other hand was distinctly a veggie and
didn’t like killing things and wanted a more egalitarian eating place. He
would have been happier working with the restaurant’s former boss, who,
although not a strict veggie, cared about animal welfare, free range food
and even looked after old animals past their usefulness by keeping them warm
He was the old fashioned type, a bit dour and not called
farmer Brown for nothing. He was not at all posh and lots of people found
him odd because his parents had not paid for him to go to school. He too had
a nice intelligent wife, like posh Dave and little Nick, but she didn’t earn
nearly as much as the other wives and often did charity work, which was also
thought a bit odd. So Posh Two went along first to the man he felt socially
comfortable with (‘class will out, don’t you think?’) thinking, wrongly,
that opportunity knocks twice.
And he forgot that he didn’t believe in hunting animals
with trident spears, and forgot about letting caged birds free, and decided
that animals did not need more space. He forgot about compassion and even
about the future and the fact that one day -with farmer Brown- he would have
a partnership in the business, which was only fair since he was bringing a
large share of capital into the venture. More than he was being given credit
But silliest of all, he did not remember that Posh One
had learned from the ruthless and cruel wicked witch of Grantham or that
posh people don’t respect other people, even if they too are posh. They may
not despise them as much, but they don’t necessarily respect them,
especially if they think of them as wimps.
They don’t bother to keep promises made in the heat of a
business courtship, anymore than they recall promises made to the fags at
school, who cleaned their hand made shoes. So the veggie soon found that
juicy steaks were on the menu and the only customers were rich, posh people
who had blood dripping down their ample chins. And the restaurant was
renamed the Bulligham in memory of the good old days, which were happily
here again. But not for long, since within about a year all sorts of
problems arose and the restaurant could not work with those two owners
tugging in different directions. So they put it up for sale again.
The other version of this story is that Farmer Brown
heads off for pastures new in the House of Lords and Posh Two sees the light
and opens up with Brown’s associates, the compassionate farmers. And Posh
One cries and cries: all the way to the bank.
By Jane Doh
Huay Tung Tao Reservoir
A short 15-20 minute drive out of central Chiang Mai,
will take you to the scenic and relaxing Huay Tung Tao Reservoir. At just 20
baht per person you can enter the grounds at this beautiful manmade lake and
enjoy a number of activities, or, if you prefer to relax, just do nothing at
all. The water itself is apparently really quite clean, and is popular for
swimming. There are also paddle boats, picnic areas, fishing, fresh food,
massage, and even off road driving! There is also a camping ground for those
who wish to stay over. If you feel like relaxing, then I suggest heading for
one of the bamboo huts which are built on the lake. Someone will come and
take your drinks order (and food, if feeling hungry) and bring it to you.
There are also the occasional passing seller offering snacks, fresh fruit,
and knickknacks. I suggest dangling your feet over the edge and into the
water to cool you down a bit. The water is surprisingly cool. Early mornings
are a good opportunity for bird watchers. Early evenings are a great time to
watch the sun set. The lake itself, and its surrounding land, was donated by
the Royal Family to serve as a tourist destination. You will find it along
the 121, just beyond the 700 Year Stadium. Enjoy!