HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Care for Dogs

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snap shots

Money Matters

DVD of the Week

Let's Go To The Movies

Bridge in Paradise


How does your garden grow?

Life in Chiang Mai

Day Tripper

Staying happy in Paradise - the Counseling Corner

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Rhinoplasty - a most common cosmetic procedure

How you look is most important these days. Especially for women. Show me a young (or old) woman who can walk past a mirror without having a peek. Cosmetic surgery is even thought by many to be the answer for personal problems.

There are many cosmetic surgical procedures available these days, and in fact, rhinoplasty (nasal remodeling) is one of the commonest cosmetic surgery procedures carried out in Thailand, since Thai ladies all seem to want the foreign larger style nose. For example, when our daughter was born, my wife said she was worried about the size of baby’s nose - it wasn’t big enough!

Rhinoplasty can reduce or increase the size of your nose, change the shape of the tip or the bridge, narrow the span of the nostrils, or change the angle between your nose and your upper lip. It may also correct a birth defect or injury, or help relieve some breathing problems.

One of the biggest problems facing cosmetic surgeons is not the surgical techniques, but the patient with unreal expectations of what the procedure is going to do for them. The person with a poor self-image may decide that the reason they are not the most popular person in the group is because of the shape of their nose. Unfortunately for this group of people, nasal remodeling will not change their personality, they will still not be the most popular person, and the rhinoplasty will have “failed”.

The best candidates for rhinoplasty are people who are looking for improvement, not perfection, in the way they look. If you’re physically healthy, psychologically stable, and realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate.

Age is also an important consideration. Young teenagers, a group that is very aware if their appearance, may not be ideal candidates for rhinoplasty, or most cosmetic surgery for that matter. There are growth spurts which change the features, and psychologically teenagers are not really mature enough to make decisions which will affect their appearance for the rest of their lives.

One other factor that must always be taken into consideration, when contemplating cosmetic surgery, is that in medicine there are no 100 percent guarantees. All surgery and anesthesia carry risks. In the situation of rhinoplasty, that risk is very low, but there is still that little uncertainty, that nobody can deny. There is always a possibility of complications, including infection, nosebleed, or a reaction to the anesthesic. After surgery, small burst blood vessels may appear as tiny red spots on the skin’s surface; these are usually minor but may be permanent. As for scarring, when rhinoplasty is performed from inside the nose, there is no visible scarring at all; but when an ‘open’ technique is used, or when the procedure calls for the narrowing of flared nostrils, the small scars on the base of the nose are usually not visible, but again, no guarantees.

In about 10 percent of cases, a second procedure may even be required to correct a minor deformity. Again, such cases are unpredictable and happen irrespective of the skill of your surgeon. Living, breathing human beings are all different, never forget that.

So let us assume that you have understood all the pitfalls, have a realistic attitude, and still want that nose remodeled. The next step is to indicate to the surgeon just what you are aiming for. This is when you bring in your 100 photos of Tata Young! But once again, it is not all that simple. The surgeon has to look at what you currently have and see if your bone structure can support the nose of your choice.

Remember, too, that the vast majority of cosmetic procedures are not covered by the usual health insurance policies. Another point to remember is that after the operation you will have a swollen, bruised face, which takes a few days to settle. Take some holidays to allow this to fade.

Finally, be sure that your surgeon really is a Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon. All doctors have skills in basic surgery, but rhinoplasty is not basic. This is surgery that changes the way the world sees you. Pick the best!


Bonnie Becky

Hi, I’m Becky – I’m 12 months old. I have pretty eyes and a white coat with tawny markings which is lovely and soft to the touch. My owners had to return me to the shelter as they were moving overseas and couldn’t take me with them. I am used to living very happily with my family and would dearly love the chance to find my forever home this time. I am brilliant with adults, kids and other dogs. If you think you could love me back even half as much as I would love you – please contact my carers on the Care for Dogs team.

If you think Becky could be the perfect companion for you or your family contact Care For Dogs: English (08 47 52 52 55) or Thai language (08 69 13 87 01) to make an appointment to meet her.

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,

Every day I go for a walk at the shopping center and most days I see a very pretty young woman drinking coffee in the coffee shop. Sometimes she is talking to a man, but other times she is just sitting on the coffee. I get a smile from her and I say “Hello” while I pass by. Do you think she is a ‘professional’ girl (you know what I mean)? And what should I do next? I really like her and would like to get to know her a bit more.


Dear Monty,

Sounds to me like you’re not the full Monty, Monty. Do I think she is a professional girl? Think, Monty, think! Why is a good looking girl sitting in a coffee shop every day, sipping on a cold coffee? She is there to find a man, or men, that’s why. She certainly isn’t making her money as a legal secretary, is she? So how else could she be making money? The coffee shop is paying her to sit there? I don’t think so. Monty, how old are you? Fifteen? Come on, boy, the object of your desires will eat you up and spit you out bone dry. What should you do next? Go to a different shopping center, that’s what!

Dear Hillary

My girlfriend seems to work in a totally different time clock to me. She can go up the road to the market and come back two hours later as if she’d just been away for five minutes. She takes the maid with her so I know she’s not up to something. How can I get her to understand I get worried that something has happened to her?


Dear Rolex,

Thai people do not have the pressing need to watch the clock the way foreigners do. You should explain to her that you are not checking up on her as this is certainly not good for any relationship, but that you are just worried for her safety, which is something Thai people do understand and appreciate. You should also make sure she takes a mobile phone with her. Buy her one if she hasn’t got one already. They are cheap enough these days and will save you hours of agonizing.

Dear Hillary,

I met my wife in a bar in Bangkok 7 yrs ago. She was then 41 and thinking of working bar. She had accompanied a friend and I met her on what would have been her first day of work. She spoke no English.

After meeting her family, I know they told her not to believe I would return. But I did just as I said. Our relationship took the age old path, I returned to the U.S. and stayed in touch. A few more visits, and we did the visa thing. One week after she arrived in the U.S. we married. We married in Thailand first, ceremonially to make the date special for her and family. My friend who owned the place where she would have worked held the wedding party.

Now after 7 yrs in the U.S. we are in route to Thailand for good. I was able to bring her home in times of family crisis every year. She now speaks passable English, has had extensive dental work, and her family of Moma, Pappa, and five sisters have never made any request for money. Though I know Thai culture, I sent some every few months. I loved the wisdom of her father. He said “She can go, but only if you take her, if it doesn’t work you bring her back to me.”

My Mom is 97, she is the only person who could get Mom to eat. She cooked Thai food for the 2 weeks we were there and taught my sister how to make the dishes Mom likes.

I have since retired and we are now on our way to Thailand for good, presently stuck in Narita waiting for a flight to Bangkok. We think we’ll settle in Pattaya where my friends are, but that is subject to change since I am 61 and don’t need the bar life anymore.

With the Thai community where we lived I made sure she had access to a temple and celebrated Thai holidays just as she would have here. She never asked for anything, jewelry, clothes, or any of the trendy stuff women love. For that reason I never denied her anything, she was happy being able to eat whatever she wanted. Although she wanted to work, it would have been more difficult than it was worth, besides I had a comfortable salary. Since there was no family where we lived in the U.S. it has only been the two of us, the only time apart was when I was at work.

I could go on and on but I think this tells the story.

Les and Lawan

Dear Les (and Lawan),

It does tell the story, and a lovely one at that. Sorry I had to shorten it a little. One reason that the relationship has worked is because you have been mindful of her needs, and not just your own. She in turn has looked after your needs. Open and honest relationships have the highest chances of success. Congratulations to you both.

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Medium Format - is it the holy grail?

As a pro photographer it was almost mandatory that you have a medium format camera. There was no getting away from the fact that to show an art director a 6 cm x 6 cm transparency on the light box was much more impressive than squinting at a 35 mm slide. Mind you, when you dropped a 5 inch x 4 inch transparency down beside them, it looked more impressive again.

So if bigger is better, or size matters or suchlike, why did we not use 5x4 all the time? Size of the camera and ease of use covers all that. While I have taken a 5x4 on location, it practically required a team of native porters to carry it, the film holders and light-proof bags and the tripod and compendium. No, 5x4 is wonderful in the studio and impractical in the wild (unless your name is Ansel Adams and you are prepared to wait days to get the clouds in the right place).

Having decided that medium format was going to be needed and that it was much more practical than 5x4, it was necessary to see what was on the market and how did I find them in use. Fortunately, since there was quite a nest of photographers in my local area it was possible for me to try out various models before taking the plunge myself.

The first was the Pentax 6x7. I was initially attracted to the fact that it was like a larger 35 mm camera. A full range of lenses were available from fish-eye to 1000 mm telephoto. I was sure it was going to be ‘my’ camera - till I used it! The sheer physical size of the thing made it unwieldy. 184 mm wide, 149 mm high and 156 mm deep (and that is the body only). And what did it weigh? A whopping 2.4 kg, that’s what. Then there was the delay between depressing the shutter and the horrible ‘thunk’ inside as it all happened, the shutter shuddered and the mirror clanked on its way out of the way! No, it wasn’t a Pentax 6x7.

I then tried the Mamiya RB 67 Pro-S. This is not like a 35 mm camera, but rather like a large box with a film holder on the back and a viewing screen on the top. Difficult to get used to initially, but it certainly took sharp photos, but the interlocks eventually wore me down. To take verticals or horizontals with this 6x7 camera you had to flick levers and turn backing plates - it was all too fiddly, though there are pro photographers out there who swear by their Mamiyas.

However, the medium format camera that everyone spoke about in hushed tones were the Hasselblads. These had the largest system with four cameras, over 20 lenses and interchangeable backs, including Polaroid. You can practically photograph anything with a Hasselblad, and even though it is medium format (which they did on the moon), and even the motor-driven ones are not as heavy as the Pentax. While there is a waist level view finder, most photographers opt for the metering prism viewfinder which was so accurate you could almost dispense with light meters. It really was the case of a quick adjustment, trial with Polaroid, and if it was OK, blast away.

I have to admit I loved my ‘Blads’, but as the years rolled on and 35 mm film became even sharper, the need for medium format became less. Even the art directors began to see that unless you wanted to blow the image up to the size of the side of a house, 35 mm was quite satisfactory.

But there was still a great satisfaction to be had from using the 6x6 camera and looking at the gorgeous transparencies. Unfortunately, except for some very specific reasons, medium format has been superceded and now with the digital revolution will soon be museum pieces. However, if you ever do see a medium format camera going for sensible money, do buy it. You will get a satisfaction from your photography that is hard to beat, especially compared to today’s auto-everything electronic marvels.

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

How important is it to send your child to a good skool?

All parents know that raising a child is not cheap. However, in a recent report, it is now apparent that UK parents are paying up to the amazing annual sum of 22,000 in nursery fees alone, and it does not stop there; a good public school in the UK is now more than 30,000 per annum.

In addition to this, a report carried out by the UK Government who paid the Economic and Social Research Council to do a study on hundreds of children who started their secondary education in the 1980’s were closely monitored. The Council came back with astounding results:

Nursery schools          5,616
K1 - K2                          6,255 (2 years total -12,510)
Year 1-5                         7,932 (5 years total -39,660)
Year 6-8                         8,916 (3 years total -26,748)
Year 9-12                       9,600 (3 years total -28,400)
Year 13                           9,600


* Those who went through privileged education system were FOUR times more likely to earn more than 90,000 a year in their thirties than those who attended ‘new’ universities (ex-polytechnics), most of whom were paid less than 30,000 per annum.

* From those who were classified as the top earners, over 85% had gone to private schools, whilst 61% of those being paid less than 30,000 had gone to state schools.

As a parent it is a natural instinct to want the very best for your children. Apart from the love and parental guidance that you will provide throughout their lives, the benefit of a top education is one of the greatest gifts you can give.

You will watch your child grow from a newborn to a toddler, then from pre-teen to a young adult, but at what point do you consider planning for your child’s future? Every day passes so slowly but the years pass so quickly. When it comes to investing for your child’s future, even if you currently don’t have children, but plan to in the future, there is no better time to start than now. As with all investments it pays to start as soon as possible.

It is never too late to start a commitment for your child’s education, whether they are pre- born or 15 years old. By sacrificing today you can make for a bright future tomorrow, which you and your child can enjoy for many years. If you are an international worker, you will understand the value of education, not just as a monitory value but also that priceless key to opening doors to opportunities of a better life.

With the cost of education constantly rising, it has become increasingly difficult to calculate the amount you would require to help your child become a successful professional.

On average, graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn 60% to 65% more each year than high school graduates (re - the College Board), so clearly one of the best investments you can ever make for your children and potential children is an investment in their education future. Even if only to ensure they look after you in your dotage!

International schools in Thailand offer fantastic education for our children with 21st century facilities and standards for the 21st century children. However, we should look at the breakdown in cost. We took the average from 15 international schools throughout Bangkok; the costs will are not cheap and may astound you:

As you can see the figures make planning for education a must. But this is not the complete figure. You can add on another 5,000 - 50,000 to complete university, then remember the figures show the school fees only, you also have to factor into your planning travel costs, books and stationary costs, uniforms, lunch costs, excursions and school trips, after school costs and if chosen, boarding school costs. There is also a non-refundable registration fee usually around the 2,500 mark. At university, you also have to factor in the cost of living.

It is impossible to give you a totally accurate figure as each international school has different costs, but as a general rule of thumb, it can be seen that the better the school performance is then the more expensive it gets. Also, it does depend where in the world you educate your children but a target figure of 350,000 should be okay if you have a child in education now. This is based on nursery, school, university and post-graduate costs. What you have to factor in is rising future costs of 5% annually. In the next ten years the cost of a child’s education will top 500,000.

Another alternative is if your child is domiciled in the UK, he/she could then attend a university in the UK, the cost here is very difficult to affirm as you may have access to government grants. On average the tuition fees are 3,290 for non-laboratory studies and 4,080 for laboratory studies per annum. Then you have the additional living costs and social costs in the UK. On average this amounts to an additional 6,000 per annum but is obviously more in places like London. Remember that if your child is intelligent enough to be a doctor or a lawyer then it will take six years to qualify. As you can see these figures quickly add up.

If your child is non-domiciled in the UK and you want them to be educated in the UK as an international student then on average the annual tuition fee alone for non - laboratory studies is 10,525 per annum and for laboratory studies it is 13,765 per annum, before living costs and social costs.

In the UK, fees at leading private schools have topped 30,000 per year for day pupils and an extra 7,500 per annum for boarding pupils. In the US the figures are very similar as seen on the break out chart this page.

Don’t despair and don’t let this stop you having children. On the contrary, with careful planning the costs can be covered without too much strain on household’s finances. The key here is PLANNING and a COMMITMENT to the planning.

Be “ready, willing and able”.

* Ready - Knowledge is power and higher education is almost becoming a pre-requisite to acquiring a good job. It is the key to opening the door to a professional career. Consider the cost of private education as a lifetime investment in your child’s future.

* Willing - If you are living overseas permanently then a private education may well become a requirement much earlier than may have been the case if you had remained in your own country. Whilst education is an investment for your child, it does not come cheap and unless you planned for it, it could mean either re-mortgaging the family home or borrowing from the bank to pay for fees or depleting your savings and retirement accounts.

* Able - Assuming that you start to save as soon as your child is born (or, even better still, before), we estimate that educating your child could well cost 350,000 and the fees will rise by 5%- 6% per annum.

You can plan for this by doing either a lump sum investment option or a regular saving option but please remember to decide beforehand how much you can afford. Have a meeting with a qualified financial advisor who will assist you and provide their recommendation. Ensure:

* Real growth potential - a choice of a wide range of investment options with options to invest in all the asset classes.

* Easy access - the ability to choose when to take the benefits you have accumulated, for example making two/three withdrawals each year to cover school fees.

* Premium flexibility - reduce or increase your premiums, take a premium holiday or add lump sums without incurring any penalties.

* Investment adaptability - to be able to switch investment funds to reflect the changes in your lifestyle at little or no cost.

* A product that is transportable - wherever you choose to live and work, you can continue the investment plan.

* Tax efficiency - investment funds that grow free of tax or are tax efficient.

Another important part of the planning process which is often forgotten and is vital to achieving what you have planned is protecting yourself. The success of the plan is you as, without you, the plan cannot succeed. Sometimes the unfortunate can happen, people do get critical illnesses, people do have accidents and people do die. Ensure that you are protected for all such events so if the unfortunate did happen, a lump sum or a regular amount will be available to you or your beneficiaries to continue the plan and ensure your child gets the education they deserve and you can sleep peacefully knowing every base is covered.

A child is the greatest gift bestowed on any individual. Besides the endless love and care you give, ensure that a top quality education is on your priority list. They will thank you forever.

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 Brian Baxter

Under the Sun of Satan (Dir Maurice Pialat)

The overwhelming intensity of this film means that a half- hearted response is unlikely. At the 1987 Cannes Film Festival the Jury, headed by Yves Montand, unanimously awarded it their grand prize, the Palme d’Or. When Pialat went on stage to accept the golden palm from Catherine Deneuve half the audience went wild with enthusiasm, the remainder booed and jeered the controversial director. He, true to form, smiled benignly and at the same time raised his fist at the people and said, “For those who don’t like me or my film, let me say I don’t like you either”.

It was a case of winning disgracefully. But then Pialat who began making short films as a youngish man has never compromised and this project was one he cherished for 25 years and he never courted favour. For me he remains, after Bresson, the most significant figure in French post-war cinema and one of a dozen of that stature from any country. There are at least a handful of works which stand the test of time: his feature debut (aged 43), L’Enfance Nue, La Geuele Ouverte, Police, A Nos Amours, Van Gogh and this majestic version of a novel by Georges Bernanos, which stars Gerard Depardieu as the country priest, Donisson, Sandrine Bonnaire as Mouchette and Pialat himself as the Dean, Menon-Segrais, who tries to control the deeply troubled priest.

Under the Sun of Satan may be viewed in isolation, but for those interested enough it makes a fascinating ‘finale’ if viewed after Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest and Mouchette, also inspired by Bernanos’s rigorous novels.

A final word on the DVDs available from the shop at Suthep Road: they come from the incomparable Criterion Masters of Cinema collection and comprise two discs. The additional material is a model of how to present such a movie. There is an optional commentary, a trailer, plus trailers of six other Pialat works, two of his earliest shorts, the award ceremony at Cannes and a subsequent interview, extended and alternative scenes analysed, a documentary about Bernanos and Pialat, the press conference at Cannes and a moving interview/tribute by Depardieu a month after the great director’s death in 2003.

And what of the film itself? Well let’s dispose of the obvious. All of the smaller roles are directed and played with Bressonian restraint, the supporting ones by highly skilled actors. The photography by Willy Krant is breathtaking; the music by Henri Dutilleux is, not unexpectedly, of a standard we seldom hear in films and the acting of the principals, especially a seemingly miscast Depardieu, mesmerizing. I say miscast simply because the Priest is supposed to be a skinny, fragile and unworldly creature, obsessed by his vocation: a man willing himself towards his own death, more from neglect than the physical rigours which Depardieu’s priest inflicts upon himself.

This sturdy man, hair shirted and self flagellating and driven by doubt suffers agonies not just of the body but because of a belief that he has been forsaken. He falls into the arms, literally (or is it a nightmare?) of Satan. Worse still he has ‘supernatural’ powers, including knowledge of Mouchette’s accidental killing of one of her lovers. In the denouement he is dragged unwillingly to a nearby parish by the father of a dying boy whose mother is convinced that he can offer ‘salvation’. He arrives too late and the youngster has died. In a scene reminiscent of the climax to Dreyer’s Ordet when the man who believes he is Christ, raises a mother from the dead, the priest offers to give up the eternal life he believes in if God will show himself stronger than Satan.

In a scene of extraordinary intensity (Pialat demanded that Depardieu repeat the physically and emotionally exhausting scene some 70 times) the child is returned to his mother. The Priest’s ‘fate’ is sealed.

I should say that Pialat states in an interview that he lost his faith in his teens and this film is surely not one which asks, “do you believe in miracles?” nor does it demand any specific religion or knowledge of Catholicism (though some of the ‘arguments’ in the film might be clearer in such a case). Like all of his important films it presents people under extreme physical and emotional conflict: childhood neglect, pain or impending death, an inability to love, dysfunctional families, policemen under intense pressure, impending madness, spiritual isolation and above all insupportable loneliness. There is much that is autobiographical in Pialat’s work and few directors in the history of cinema have invited us to share a private world with such honesty and clarity.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai

Prince of Persia: US, Action/ Adventure/ Fantasy/ Romance – Some of the rather unique moves that you make in the video game this film is based on, such as running along walls at an angle to the ground, are duplicated here, much to my delight, as I enjoy the game. And there’s some sense of the game’s action and visuals. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, a quite luscious and appealing Gemma Arterton, an enjoyable villain in Ben Kingsley, and a lot of fun in the comedy of Alfred Molina. It’s a sort of old-style Arabian Nights story, set in medieval Persia when a nefarious nobleman (Kingsley) covets the Sands of Time, a legendary dagger that allows its possessor to turn back time. Also in a Thai-dubbed version at both venues. Mixed or average reviews.

The Losers: US, Action/ Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller – Delicious and delightful action film, full of fun. But it’s an action film, so if you’re not fond of fights and fury, you won’t be amused. Of its type, it has a much better script than you have any right to expect, full of laughs, and with a great attitude. It’s a tale of betrayal and revenge, in which the members of an elite Special Forces unit are sent to the Bolivian jungle on a search and destroy mission. The team soon finds that they have become the target of a deadly double cross. Betrayed and left for dead, the black ops team root out those who targeted them for assassination. Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Zoe Saldana (of Avatar fame), and directed by relative newcomer Sylvain White, definitely a director to watch. I particularly appreciate the clear and understandable action sequences, where you can actually follow what’s happening – and only semi-rapid editing. Very violent, so be warned. Mixed or average reviews. At Vista only.

Sex and the City 2: US, Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – One that I am not wildly looking forward to, but it was a hugely successful series in some circles, so maybe you are. The girls this time take off to and take on the United Arab Emirates – one of your favorite locales, right? Well, it’s not even shot there; they used Morocco instead. Critics have generally given it scathingly unfavorable reviews. Rated R in the US for some strong sexual content and language; 15+ in Thailand. Airport Plaza only.

Killers: US, Action/ Comedy/ Romance – Starring Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck. A vacationing woman meets her ideal man, leading to a swift marriage. Back home, however, their idyllic life is upset when they discover their neighbors could be assassins who have been contracted to kill them. Mostly no thrills or laughs, and dull. Generally unfavorable reviews: Airport Plaza only.

Shrek Forever After - 3D: US, Animation/ Comedy/ Family – The further adventures of the giant green ogre living in the land of Far, Far Away, this time in 3D. Still a fun movie for the family – at least I was solidly amused throughout. In 2D this week at Airport Plaza; 2D and Thai-dubbed only at Vista. Mixed or average reviews.

Robin Hood: US, Action/ Drama – Robin Hood as gladiator, brought to life by director Ridley Scott, and starring Russell Crowe. It does have impressive visuals and some great sweeping battle scenes, and strong performances, by Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchet, William Hurt, Max van Sydow, and Mark Strong. It’s loud, noisy, and confusing in the modern way of showing battles, where clarity is sacrificed for jittery, jumpy editing, and you are left with visual impressions, not information. Mixed or average reviews. Vista only.

Poh Tak: Thai, Comedy – Directed by popular comedian-turned-director, Mum Jokmok, this is a comedy featuring many of the regulars on Mum’s very popular TV show. Scheduled for June 17 but never sure!

The A-Team: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller – Follows the exploits of a colorful team of former Special Forces soldiers who were set up for a crime they did not commit. Going “rogue,” they utilize their unique talents to try and clear their names and find the true culprit. Starring Liam Neeson and Jessica Biel. Mixed or average reviews.

The Karate Kid / The Kung Fu Kid: US/ China, Action/ Drama/ Family/ Sport – Stars a talentless kid who is only in films because his father is so powerful in the business, and is producing it. The kid is a spoiled brat, in my opinion, and if I could get away with it, I wouldn’t even acknowledge the film’s existence. Also stars Jackie Chan, and it was filmed in Beijing emphasizing tourism sites which apparently the Chinese required as part of the deal. Internationally the film tends to be referred to as “The Kung Fu Kid” despite its origins as a remake, because in fact what the kid does now is Kung Fu. Generally favorable reviews, which I can’t believe.

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

Planning is an important part of playing a bridge hand.  For declarer, the most important aspect of planning is to count your tricks before even playing to the first trick. If you are in a four level contract, you want to be able to count 10 tricks, in a six level, 12 tricks. Try this with the hands below. You are sitting South and are declarer in six hearts, with no opposition bidding. The ten of spades is led. You see the North and South hands as below. Before looking at the full deal, decide what is your plan for the contract? 

                       S: K64

                       H: AQJ10

                       D: K108743

                       C: -                      

S: ?                                              S: ?

H: ?                                             H: ?

D: ?                                             D: ?

C: ?                                             C: ?

                       S: AQJ

                       H: K542

                       D: 2

                       C: K8654             

I watched one declarer play this. He snarled his thanks at his partner and then paused, correctly, before playing to the first trick, in order to formulate a plan. As play proceeded, it became obvious that his plan involved trumping his club losers on board. That meant delaying pulling trumps. He needed plenty of entries to hand, so he began by playing the spade king and overtaking it with the ace in hand. Then he ruffed a low club and led another spade to hand. He ruffed a second low club and tried a third spade to hand. East ruffed in and led another trump, leaving only one trump on board, while hand still had three losing clubs. Declarer then seemed to lose heart (understandably) and ended up losing a trump, two clubs and a diamond, in addition to the defence ruff, to go down four.

At the other table, declarer paused to count tricks. He saw that he could never get to 12 tricks if he used dummy’s high trumps to ruff clubs, because his trumps in hand were too weak to use to pull trump. The only way was to use his own trumps to ruff diamonds and try to set up dummy’s diamond suit. He won the opening trick in hand and led a low diamond. West went up with the ace, to declarer’s relief, and led a low club. This was ruffed on board and a low diamond was led to be ruffed low in hand. He crossed back to board with a trump, and led a third round of diamonds which he ruffed with the king in hand. West discarded a low spade. Now, he led his last trump to board and pulled trumps with dummy’s last high hearts. He breathed a sigh of relief again when trumps split 3-2. Dummy now has good spades (with the help of the ace in hand) and the good K108 of diamonds. Twelve tricks (three high trumps, a club ruff on board, two diamond ruffs in hand, three spades and three diamonds) and contract made, thanks to careful planning. Admittedly, he needed a little luck, but he went for the only possible way to make twelve tricks, which was by setting up dummy, not trying to set up his hand. This was the full hand, with North dealer and EW vulnerable. Would your plan have made the contract?

                             S: K64

                            H: AQJ10

                            D: K108743

                            C: -           

S: 109872                           S: 53

H: 983                                 H: 76

D: A6                                   D: QJ95

C: Q103                               C: AJ972

                            S: AQJ

                            H: K542

                            D: 2

                            C: K8654  

Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]

MAIL OPINION : By Shana Kongmun

Chiang Mai Back on Track

I recently attended the Chiang Mai Back on Track Peace festival at the Playhouse Entertainment Complex and thought, “what a terrific idea”. I then received a letter suggesting that the Chiang Mai Mail help in the process to bring business back to Chiang Ma and again, thought, “we should, what a great idea”.

And then I considered our options in doing so, naturally, as a newspaper we have to report the news as we get it, but what proactive things can we do that support our community? I have heard from several different organizations that plan on organizing seminars on helping Chiang Mai businesses to promote their services and products. I also see that the Province is starting a program to promote Chiang Mai’s spas and health services, all good things.

But I must say, it dismayed me to see the TAT offering Phuket tremendous support and a recent campaign to promote Samui as a honeymoon destination. What about Chiang Mai? Considering the recent troubles here and the dismal low season, I would have thought Chiang Mai would have been a priority for one of TAT’s promotional campaigns.

That leaves it up to us, I guess, to see what we can do to promote our fair city as a safe, beautiful and interesting destination again.

In that light, I call upon our readers to send in suggestions of things that we here at Chiang Mai Mail can do, what businesses in Chiang Mai can do to promote Chiang Mai to the world again. [email protected] We would love to hear of some proactive ideas to get Chiang Mai “back on track”.

How does your garden grow?: By Eric Danell,Dokmai Garden

Time to get new plants for your garden!

Now during the early rainy season is the best time to plant new plants. It is moist, the sky has overcast, and this will last until the end of October, giving your new plant a long period for establishment. You can of course plant new trees any time of the year, but if you do it in the dry season, that will demand much more attention in terms of irrigation and sun protection. Beware though, that during the rainy season you have many active insects, why you have to check your recently planted darlings frequently, or they may succumb to mealy bugs or beetles. If they do not die, they may still lose a lot of valuable time.

Good places to buy plants in Chiang Mai are of course the Khamtieng flower market, by the Tesco Lotus north of town (by the ring road 11). The problem though is that the vendors rarely know scientific names, and although some have books, they quite often show a related plant, why you may have a surprise when your plant opens its flowers for the first time. Also, pricing depends on your looks. The exception is the orchid section, where the vendors have better standards.

If you need ordinary tree seedlings, you can get those for free at governmental tree nurseries. The staff rarely knows English nor scientific names, so bring a translator.

If you want special plants, price tags, scientific names and English speaking staff who can give advice, then Dokmai Garden in Hang Dong is a good option. During the weekend of June 19-20 there is a 20% discount on all plants in the sales nursery. You can read about the plants for sale beforehand:

In addition, every purchase over 1000 Baht entitles you to a free entrance ticket to the garden, which encompasses 931 species on display. Driving directions can be found here: dokmaigarden www.dokmai

Life in Chiang Mai: By Colin Jarvis

Mixed Marriage

Recently I found myself in several conversations in which European and American men extolled the virtues of their Thai wives. They were really passionate and enthusiastic about their relationships and all felt they were extremely lucky to have found such wonderful life partners.

If you have been in Thailand for a while you will have heard many stories of mixed marriages going wrong. Sometimes the stories are heartbreaking. It seems to be the case that when such a marriage is good, it is very, very good and when it is bad, it is horrid. Why is this and can the horrid be avoided?

The answer is, of course “Yes” – providing the expectations on both sides are understood and that communication between the partners is clear. Unfortunately this is often not the case. People often assume too much. Both partners tend to believe that the other has the same expectations and requirements as themselves. When they try to discuss possible differences the communication itself can exacerbate the problem.

In agricultural societies it has always been accepted that one marries into a family, rather than just to an individual person. The newcomer takes on responsibilities, within the family, relevant to his abilities. Everyone has to help with the harvest but if the newcomer is particularly well off he will be expected to pay for the new combine harvester, or buffalo, as this will improve the quality of life of the whole family. The newcomer’s status will depend upon his contribution to that family.

Half a century ago this expectation was common in the West as well as the East. It is only in the last 50 years that the idea of marrying a single person, and not having any responsibility for the rest of the family, has become prevalent in the West. Couples tend to expect elderly parents to look after themselves in the West whilst in the East it is still considered the responsibility of the children to look after the parents.

I was chatting to an American, who had recently acquired a Thai wife, and who had bought a pleasant house in his wife’s village as well as keeping a condo in Chiang Mai. We met during the village Songkran celebrations. He was complaining because early that morning his wife’s family had turned up in order to sit in the garden drinking his beer and whisky. He had completely failed to recognize the honour his family were doing him by seeing him as a generous person and a senior member of the family. Rather than seizing this opportunity to “Make Merit” he saw it as the family sponging off him. This is really sad as he could have enjoyed the experience rather than been frustrated by it. It is a simple example of the expectations on both sides being very different but no one recognizing this fact and allowing resentment to build up.

This misunderstanding can be made far worse by the problems of communication. When people learn a foreign language they often continue to use the grammar from their first language. The results can often be humorous but sometimes can be dangerous if the problem is not understood.

Supposing my American friend, attempting to avoid being descended upon by the family, had said to his wife, “You don’t want the family to come for drinks tomorrow morning do you?” His wife’s answer is likely to be “No”. Her husband will understand this to mean that she does not want her family to come for drinks when in fact she is stating the opposite. In English, a negative question expects a reply that restates the question. In this case “No” means, in English, “No, I do not want the family to come for drinks.” In Thai grammar the answer is in the form of agreeing, or disagreeing, with the statement made by the questioner. In this case “No, I do not agree with what you say, I would like my family to come for drinks”.

Another common linguistic cause of friction is the simple word “Please”. In Thai this word does not seem to exist. Requests are made and when fulfilled are profusely thanked, but the word “Please” is seldom used in the request. A wife will often ask her spouse to “Bring the car around”, rather than “Would you please bring the car around”. After a while the poor westerner can start to feel like a servant being ordered about all the time. This is not conducive to building a strong relationship!

Not all relationships that fail do so because of a problem in communication. Some people make bad choices; other couples grow apart over time. However, I am certain that many horrid relationships could have been great ones had the communication been better.

Day Tripper: By Jane Doh

Baan Tawai - A craft lovers delight

Ban Tawai is full of handicrafts, sure to please the entire family.

If you are a lover of handicrafts, handmade furniture, and assorted objet d’art, then a Daytripper delight could be Ban Tawai.

Ban Tawai is an entire village of OTOP (One Tambon One Product) handicraft. Here you can find simple to elaborate wood carved products, jewelry, paintings, silk, gifts, and small items such as lotions and soaps. The list goes on. Ban Tawai is a feast for the arts and crafts appreciator, so it’s worth a visit, even if not intending to buy something (although you most likely will!). It can even be a family affair, as there are plenty of interesting toys and hand-made gadgets to keep kids happy. As well as some pretty amazing sculptures made out of metal scraps (nuts and bolts etc). I’m sure even adults’ jaws will drop at the gigantic metal “Predator” and “Alien” beasts. There are also plenty of places to eat of course, so no one will go hungry.

One thing that should strike you at Baan Tawai, is quality. The village has earned a reputation for creating good quality products. So if you do decide to make a purchase, it is likely to be a rewarding one, which will stand the test of time.

It’s a place that really has to be seen to be believed. I highly recommend a visit.

Getting there: Situated approximately 15kms south of Chiang Mai city centre, just off route 108 at Hang Dong. Lots of signposts, so easy to find.

Staying happy in Paradise - the Counseling Corner

by Richard L. Fellner

The Roots of Violence

Violence is an ‘unforgettable’ valve. Already as a toddler, each of us learned that violence can at least provide short-term benefits - an experience which was stored deeply in the brain. From then on, whenever we don’t feel understood or not heard in a conflict, and in any situation that feels threatening, there will be at least a subconscious thought playing with the possibility of using psychological or physical violence to gain ground.

Education and maturation of our personality, however, allow us to learn other means of conflict resolution as well, which is the reason why very few adults use physical violence. But then there are also people who find it harder than others to control their emotions. Their conflicts escalate much more easily: at first, mostly verbal, but sometimes they can end up in the form of physical attacks or reprisals.

The roots of the propensity to violence are almost always socially conditioned: the vast majority of perpetrators of violence grew up in economically poorer and atmospherically difficult families, often there are feelings of depression, a lack of perspective or a feeling of ‘not being able to achieve it.’

Unfortunately, the use of force almost always results in massive problems in partnerships, friends and society. Also, studies show that due to higher stress loads, the tendency to violence harms various organs and can make one physically sick. Therefore, psychological and psychotherapeutic impulse control programs have been developed which can help affected people to learn regulate their emotions better and regain their ability to be ‘the boss of one’s body’.

Live the happy life you planned! Richard L. Fellner heads the Counseling Center Pattaya in Soi Kopai and offers consultations in English and German languages (after making appointments at 0854 370 470).