The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
Elixir of Youth recipe next week!
I have just returned from the
UK, where I went to see my dear old Mum, now aged 93 and in a care home.
Before I went I picked up a medical textbook and opened it at the section
called ‘Geriatric Medicine’ and what a depressing start to the day that was!
Gloom, doom and disaster! However, the picture is not really as bad as all
that, so I thought that this week I would go through the aging process, and
then what we can do about it. The recipe for the elixir of youth is not
enclosed as I am still trying to perfect it, but instead, some ways you can
stay feeling ‘young’ while waiting till next week!
Let’s begin with the depressing news that you have
actually been going downhill since the age of 14 (mentally) and from the age
of around 30 (physically). That bar-room ditty that relates to what you used
to do all night, now taking all night to do, can be too close to the mark
for some of us. But don’t despair, help is at hand (no pun intended).
The book suggested that the aging of our individual
organs is influenced by diet, environment, personal habits and genetic
factors. Read that again - did you notice that three of them (diet,
environment, personal habits) are actually under our control, so the angle
of the slippery slide can be changed. Good News number one.
The physiological changes associated with aging do
include an increase in body fat, a difficulty in reading (called presbyopia)
and a clouding of the optic lens (called a cataract). Glucose metabolism
goes a little awry as well, as we get older. In the lungs, the elasticity
goes out of the lung tissue, meaning that the lungs don’t absorb the oxygen
as well as they should.
It doesn’t end there. This elasticity thing gets
increasingly important. The arteries become less elastic too, so the heart
has to pump harder to force the blood around, increasing blood pressure and
enlarging the heart.
Then the liver doesn’t cope as well with the toxic
chemicals we meet as it used to, and the bowel gets a little lazy as well,
leading to constipation. For men, the prostate slowly enlarges and makes it
difficult for the bladder to empty properly, so you have to get up to pee a
few times a night. The awful statistics are that 50 percent of all men will
have some degree of enlargement by the time they are 50 years old, 60
percent by 60, 70 percent by 70, and you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to
do the maths by the time you are 100.
Finally, the brain shrinks and you begin to forget things,
“I’ll never forget what’s-her-name” being a real problem! You lose the
recent memory first, and then the long term memory second.
So what to do? The main thing is to make sure your organs
get enough oxygen to work properly. Oxygen gets into the blood via the
lungs. Clogged air sacs in the lungs is a big problem. Answer? Stop smoking
- immediately, and get some exercise every day, so that you start to use the
lungs, and their capacity, again.
Now we have some oxygen back in the blood we have to
circulate the magic red fluid. Cholesterol build-up in the arteries produces
blockages. Reverse it by lowering cholesterol in your diet. You do this by
decreasing animal fats and increasing vegetables. That’s not too difficult
either, is it?
Now the sugar problems. Another one with an easy fix -
cut out all the ‘extra’ sugar in your diet. You don’t have to use sugar in
your coffee, and chocolates should be a very occasional indulgence only.
The liver? The main toxic substance it has to deal with
is ethanol, otherwise known as alcohol. Give the liver one day a week to
recover. That’s your AFD (alcohol free day).
So look at the three items again under your control -
diet, environment, habits. The answer to aging is there. Begin with
cigarettes, body fat, alcohol of all types and fancy foods. It’s a start.
Hi, I’m Sunshine. I know I may not look like the handsomest dog in
the shelter but I certainly feel like it! I think my snaggle tooth
gives me character and makes me look distinguished – but what’s
important is what you think? I am small but they tell me size
doesn’t matter a jot – though I hate to use such a word, they tell
me I’m cute. They’re probably right too! I’ve been sterilised, given
all those blasted shots and am now ready to be taken to the right
home for some cuddling, grooming and fussing. Is that too much to
ask? We at Care for Dogs don’t think so. ADD A LITTLE SUNSHINE TO
YOUR LIFE! Contact the shelter English (08 47 52 52 55) or Thai
language (08 69 13 87 01) to make an appointment to meet him.
Heart to Heart
Greetings! Ever since I laid my foot to Thailand 5 or
6 years ago, I have been an avid reader of your column. I’m an Asian
foreigner contract worker in Thailand then, but when my contract ended
and moved to another country I kept the paper’s website and kept myself
updated from your column. Over the years of reading your columns, it
still humored and amazes me of the different stories and revelations.
But above all, as most of the stories I read are the few men who were
able to find their partners and knowing Thai women, well the
relationship was a happy ending after all! The thought crossed my mind
of going back to Thailand, this time not for work but for a partner...
It sounds ridiculous, but I’m not getting any younger and the fact that
I’m a woman! Well Ms. Hillary, I bet this is the most unusual letter
you’ll ever read, cause this time its a woman’s search for a partner...
wish me luck Ms. Hillary!
Dear Lost Angel,
I’m sorry to disappoint you Ms. Lost Angel, yours
is not the most unusual letter I’ve ever read, but back to your
situation. You need a partner, and I can assure you that you will never
be lonely in Thailand, no matter what your needs in a partner entails -
and you haven’t really told me much about that, have you? However, the
simple fact remains for all people who come to Thailand looking for
partners, if you choose from the commercial end of available partners,
you will get what you pay for. A ‘mia chow’ or ‘rented wife’. “Love”,
devotion, commitment are qualities you generally won’t find there. As in
any relationship (m-f, m-m, f-f) go slowly, Petal. Go slowly! It is a
dangerous battleground you are traversing.
I had no idea my letter would post so soon or even at
all. Just to follow up we made it to Bangkok the night the curfew was
lifted, spent a few days with my wife’s family and within 3 days we
moved into a condo in Pattaya. All is well. While advice is your job,
I’d like to say to your readers who have suffered in every imaginable
way, a farang can never know everything Thai. Those who for whatever
reason refuse to use common sense, and allow a certain body part to
dictate their lives assures you will always have material.
Les and Lawan
Dear Les and Lawan,
Thank you again, and I do take care! That is
certainly timely (and timeless) advice for those who read this column.
Unfortunately “common sense” is an oxymoron, as it isn’t too “common”,
is it? I’ll leave it to the gents loaded with Vitamin V to work out just
to which “certain body part” you are referring! Enjoy your new condo.
I was drinking with my mates the other morning and a
Thai friend suggested that I needed a tattoo to look more manly. Well,
at 4 in the a.m. you’re not at your best so I went with him for the tat.
I told him I wanted a heart with “I love MOM”. I got the tattoo finished
and woke up and went home. When I awoke I admired my new tat in the
mirror and was shocked to find “I love WOW” on my arm. I showed it to my
‘friend’ Nok at the bar and she is very mad at me and wants to know who
“Wow” is. She is looking for her. I think the answer is to change the
name of Chiang Mai, which no one can pronounce, to WOW City. It is more
descriptive and would get me out of trouble.
Dear Singha Jerry,
“Get you out of trouble”? Impossible, my sweet
potato. Trouble is your middle name, and always has been. I will get one
of the girls to tell your friend Nok that there is a Wow who has a bar
in Jomtien. She should take along a video camera, the meeting could be
interesting. You were certainly very lucky to find a friendly tattoo
artist at 4 a.m., and ones that administer general anesthetics are even
more rare. Or did you use several gallons of Singha beer as the
anesthetic? Or was that as the alcohol swab to clean the skin before the
ink was applied?
Just a quickie. I want to send a girl I met last time
I was up on holidays some money for her birthday just before Xmas later
this year, but I’ve been told that it’s not too safe sending money by
post. As I won’t be back in Thailand till around March/April next year,
it is a bit late to bring it over myself. What’s your suggestion? The
safer the better.
That is nice of you, but your little lady friend
will soon tell you the best way, if you haven’t worked it out before
Santa comes down the chimney. You don’t post it, you transfer it to her
bank account, and she will have one, believe me! Posting is a no-no!
by Harry Flashman
Have you read your instruction manual?
using many different cameras over far too many years, I have
become a little blasť about instruction manuals. After all, the
technical side of photography involves manipulating shutter
speed, aperture of the lens and focusing. It really should not
need much more than a few pages to cover that.
However, with the digital evolution and the advent of
LCD’s and drop down menus and other electronic trickery, it has become
necessary to once more study the instruction manuals (and I have to
admit I have not read my new one from cover to cover)!
But instruction manuals are not new. A few years back
now, I was given a book by Jan Olav Aamlid called How to make good
pictures - a book for the amateur photographer. Published by Kodak
Limited in London, the book had 170 glossy pages and the price was one
Unfortunately, there was no date in the book, but
looking at the photographs printed in it, I would put the date at around
Things have changed photographically too. Before the
world developed that wonderful little pop-up flash on your compact
camera, that “knows” it has to come up when the light levels are low,
Kodak were offering the Amateur Flashlight Outfit for those who would
brave the dark. I quote from our one shilling book, “The procedure is
simple. The powder is crushed and mixed as indicated, then the taper is
fixed in position at one end of the tray. When ready to make the
exposure, the taper is lit and the lamp slowly tilted until the powder
falls on the flame.” The book goes on a couple of pages later, “When
more than one flashlight picture is to be taken, the windows should be
opened between each flash to free the room thoroughly from smoke,
otherwise all the pictures after the first few are liable to have a
slightly ‘foggy’ appearance.”
Further advice to the amateur with his flash powder
and taper include, “If the room is darkened the sudden flash of light so
strains the eyes of the sitters that it almost invariably gives them a
staring look, but if the room is already illuminated by gas or
electricity, the strain is not so great and the eyes will have a natural
expression.” I would imagine that sitting in a closed room with some
lunatic with crushed flash powder and a lit taper would make anyone
stare a little! Yes, we certainly get it easy these days.
There is one complete chapter on photographing
interiors, with exposure times quoted around the 10 minute mark. They do
caution, “If time exposures are made with the camera held in the hands,
the pictures will be blurred.” The mind boggles at a hand-held 10 minute
However, it does have some very pertinent facts. With
portrait photography, the book suggests, “As an example, take a young
man with too prominent ears; it is obvious in this case that the full
face would be displeasing, so turn the face slowly away from the light
until the ear nearest the light disappears from the line of sight.” The
book also says that if this still does not fix the problem, get the
young man to rest his head on his hand and hide the appendages that way!
For me, the best part of the book was in the first
few chapters where the basic principles of photography were explained in
detail, even showing the differences between different manufacture of
lenses. Exposure control is well documented, and the amateur
photographer who followed this book through to the end would have no
longer been a true “amateur”.
In those halcyon days, the budding photographer was
also his own darkroom assistant and much of the book is devoted to D&P (Developing
and Printing) and how to avoid the traps and pitfalls. For those of you
who have dabbled (or rather dipped and dunked) you will agree that it
does give another dimension to picture taking, one that has all but
disappeared these days, with the advent of the digital camera.
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
Does more risk mean more money? Part 1
In these days of market turmoil and banks giving next to
nothing to their clients who have savings accounts, more and more people are
turning to their advisors and wondering how to make ends meet. The sad fact is
that many advisory firms are just not capable of giving good quality advice and
usually just recommend the old 70/30 split between equities and bonds.
If times are volatile, then tough, and one receives the usual
platitudes explaining that the risk reward ratio is just not enough to achieve
the required income or dividend. If a client is not prepared to take the risk
then the less money they will have to spend.
Unfortunately, all this does is show the ignorance of the
average advisor. There is a way whereby investors can receive, via a low risk
strategy, the required amount of money to maintain and, maybe, increase the
present standards of living they want. By adopting an alpha multi-manager, multi-asset
allocation approach it is possible to achieve the goals required.
However, as we all know, even low risk investments can go
down as well as up. One of the most important things to gauge when giving advice
on how to set up this kind of investment is understanding the client’s ability
to accept risk - both emotionally and financially. The former as it may cause
sleepless nights and the latter because if things do not turn out well then the
lifestyle to which they have become accustomed may not be sustainable.
As intimated above, the old-school type of advice has always
maintained that there should be a constant split between equities and bonds and
the former will always outperform all other assets over the longer term. This is
just simply not true. If you invested in the Dow Jones 30 in 1928 you did not
get your money back until 1954. This shows that it can be argued that equities
by themselves, or being a major part of a portfolio, could actually lose the
client money over a period of time. This is not theory but fact and if people
realised it they would, obviously, not stand for it.
This then shows that Scott Campbell, the multi-award winning
manager with MitonOptimal Guernsey, is absolutely correct in advocating a multi-manager,
multi-asset alpha management approach to investments. It is vital that when
constructing a portfolio it must be designed to produce in all circumstances. It
is vital for clients that the portfolio is realistic and reflects the fact that
future returns are never guaranteed and markets may perform poorly for many
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 Brian Baxter
The Taking of Power by Louis XIV by Roberto Rossellini
film directors are like the finest magicians. What they do is both
‘inexplicable’ and – often – seemingly very simple, yet enthralling. One
such magician of the cinema was Roberto Rossellini who came to fame with his
first masterpiece Rome, Open City (1945). He was the most significant of the
neo-realist directors and Italy’s greatest. He developed into the first
‘modern’ director of the post war years, although he never lost his instinct
for neo-realism, which in this portrait of the court of the Sun King is
never far away. There is an immediacy, a sense of heightened documentary to
it that blends with the historical perspective.
What is so amazing about Rossellini is the seemingly
effortless way he presents his ‘story’. His films have clear narratives,
recognisable characters and a deep sense of place and history. At their best
(Rome..., this movie, Germany, Year Zero, Voyage to Italy) they make a very
direct appeal to the viewer. There is no artifice here, just great art, full
of movement and grace. The visual impact owes much to paintings of the
period, but this is no tableau vivante.
Criterion Video has recently re-issued Louis with some
intriguing extras, interviews and so on. The colour restoration is good and
the film is sumptuous to look at. It is a film that flows like a wide clear
stream, mostly calm on the surface but teaming with life whilst meandering
over ancient rocks and surfaces where ‘reality’ is discovered by
Rossellini’s relentless and probing camera.
It begins with some exterior shots and conversations
between French workers who are openly critical about the state of France,
which is – or was – governed by the dying Cardinal Mazarin, leaving no
apparent successor as the most powerful figure in the country. Louis, the
King, although young, has been on the throne for 17 years. He is dominated
by his mother who seems to despise him. We do not meet Louis until about 20
minutes into this quite short work, and only then as a shy hesitant
youngster who is in awe of his friend Mazarin – the wealthiest man in
After the death of Mazarin, the 22 year old Louis makes
an astonishing decision. This playboy King, indulgent, plump, foppish on the
surface, decides to assume full sovereignty, controlling finance, government
affairs, re-aligning positions of authority and manipulating the noble
courtiers, who eventually become his ‘servants’.
He becomes the Sun King, citing the fact that all nature
depends upon the sun for life and growth. Power indeed.
We follow the King’s ‘plans’ as he – helped by Colbert, a
merchant and Mazarin’s former aide, impoverishes the Court by insisting that
they dress as expensively and flamboyantly as he does. He rebels against his
mother, accepts the revolutionary advice of his new right hand man (despised
and underrated by the noblemen) to help the peasants by lowering their taxes
and diminish the power of the bourgeoisie. Along with his revolutionary
ideas he embarks on ever greater self aggrandisement (Versailles is the most
tangible outcome) so as to make the rest of Europe in awe of him and France.
He decides that the King must become ‘the animator of all enterprises’.
Above all he must never allow another period of civil war.
The film culminates in a solo banquet for the King,
watched by the entire court. Louis enjoys course after course, lavishly
prepared and brought to him by a team of people, and served to him by his
brother. We learn that just as he has a different servant for every item of
clothing and every aspect of his life, so he has an individual responsible
for every aspect of his food – for the lettuce, the peas, the eggs and
finally an entire procession to introduce the 14th
course, brought under lock and key only to be abandoned.
The extraordinarily fluid scene – a metaphor for an
unsustainable life style - ends with the King walking in his magnificent
gardens and then deciding to be alone: a scene unique in this exquisite
film. After taking off some of the many exterior garments, he sits at his
desk and muses over the notion of authority which stem from something beyond
‘both dignity and merit’. Even so in his solitary state he begins to wonder
what will be the outcome of his actions, acknowledging that - in the final
words of the film - ‘neither the sun nor death can be gazed upon fixedly’.
Although the film can only be appreciated as a whole
there are many scenes which are outstanding, besides the ‘banquet’ and a
lyrically filmed hunt. The scene just before he enters the chambers of the
dying Mazarin, as the camera swirls around him in moment of confusion. And
the ‘documentary’ style, dialogue free arrest of the overly ambitious
Fouquet, which harks back in style to his earlier neo realist films.
Amazingly this majestic film was financed by French television and shot
quite quickly on a modest budget, demanding great technical wizardry from
its director and designers, in both the court and the exteriors outside
Paris and ‘Versailles’ ( painted mirrors were one secret).
The film is a work of genius, of radiant beauty and
Bach-like mathematical precision. It was made when Rossellini was at a low
ebb critically, financially and with the public. It revived his career
leading to a decade of intense creativity with further biographical films,
such as Socrates, Pascal, Augustine and others.
For the actor, Jean-Marie Patte, who played Louis, it was
a one off. He was plucked from obscurity, Bresson style, for his demeanour
and grew into the role under Rossellini’s direction, becoming bolder as the
film progressed. He returned to the same obscurity as a clerk and dabbler in
theatrics. He is the extraordinary and seemingly passive centre of the film,
around whom all the sycophancy and masquerading take place. If he were not
the Sun King, Player King might be an apt title.
If I were asked the impossible- to list ten of the
greatest films of all time - then The Taking of Power by Louis XIV would
certainly be among them. It deals with bombast, the trappings and meaning
and effect of power. It vividly presents a portrait of a bygone age (17th
century France). It is a riot of colour and flouncing aristocracy. It is
comic yet deadly serious. And the outward appearance is one of the utmost
simplicity. Film making that is unadorned, unostentatious and without any of
the frills that Louis adopts. A masterpiece.
(Available from the DVD Film and Music Shop at 289 Suthep
Road, Chiang Mai).
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Chiang Mai
Letters to Juliet: US, Comedy/
Drama/ Romance – Starring the great Vanessa Redgrave, along with Amanda
Seyfried and Christopher Egan. A young American travels to the city of
Verona, home of the star-crossed lover Juliet Capulet of Romeo and Juliet
fame, and joins a group of volunteers who respond to letters written to
Juliet seeking advice about love. After answering one letter dated 1951, she
inspires its author to travel to Italy in search of her long-lost love,
which brings a love into both these women’s lives unlike anything they ever
imagined. Mixed or average reviews, but I had a fine time. It was a true joy
for me to watch an actress of such overwhelming power as that of Vanessa
Redgrave: she simply takes command of your emotions and invites you on a
fascinating journey. And you trust her with your emotions because you feel
that she will treat them with respect. Don’t miss this opportunity to see
our greatest living actress in action. Not a great part, but she makes the
most of it, as though she simply has no time to waste.
Predators: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – I
enjoyed this! Of its type, I thought it quite superior. I was impressed by
the fun the actors seemed to be having with their characters (Lawrence
Fishburne especially giving a deliciously-chewed performance!). I thought
the photography was striking, the mood nicely tense and forbidding, and the
music fascinating! I’m not a particular fan of this sort of action film, but
I found it quite entertaining. Starring Adrien Brody, and directed by
Hungarian filmmaker Nimrod Antal (Kontroll). Rock-solid, old-school
thrills. Mixed or average reviews.
Toy Story & Toy Story 2 (3D): US, Animation/ Family –
Here shown as two completely separate movies, splitting in two the double
feature that has been playing elsewhere in Thailand as well as around the
world. You get a tiny discount by buying a voucher for both for 399 baht –
either one baht or 41 baht depending on the day, but your best bet is to go
on Wednesday when most everything is discounted, and you can get a regular
seat for these 3D films for 130 baht each. The two films have gotten
extraordinarily high praise, originally and on this go-around, and I highly
recommend you see them. I just saw Toy Story 2, and I loved it.
Reviews: Universal acclaim.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: US, Fantasy/ Romance/
Thriller – The pack is back again! In this episode Bella (Kristen Stewart)
once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a
string of mysterious killings. In the midst of this, she is forced to choose
between her love for Edward (heartthrob Robert Pattinson, a vampire) and her
friendship with Jacob (heartthrob Taylor Lautner, member of the Quileute
Wolfpack) – knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the
struggle between vampire and wolfpack, and a tissy fit between fans of each.
Mixed or average reviews. The Vista version is Thai-dubbed.
Bitter/Sweet: US/ Thai, Comedy/ Romance – An uptight
executive for a US coffee company is sent on a buying trip to picturesque
Krabi, where he meets the daughter of growers in the region. Has been called
“barely watchable” and “an embarrassment.” In Thai and English with
subtitles as needed. At Vista only.
Knight and Day: US, Action/ Comedy/ Thriller – The
film where Tom Cruise gets to be charming again, after a considerable
absence. And he is, with charisma to spare. It’s pleasantly amusing, as much
a cute rom-com as an action flick. Mixed or average reviews.
The Karate Kid: US/ China, Action/ Drama/ Family/
Sport – Even worse than I had imagined. Filmed in Beijing emphasizing
tourism sites which the Chinese required; turns out that’s the best part.
Generally favorable reviews. Thai-dubbed at Vista.
Scheduled for July 15
Inception: US/ UK, Drama/
Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – Has garnered a raft of ecstatic reviews, and
sounds at the very least like a not-to-be-missed event. Starring Leonardo
DiCaprio in what has been lauded as another outstanding state-of-the-art
acting job. It’s written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan, so
it’s his baby entirely, and it’s been called a worthy successor to his
memorable Memento. About controlling a person through messing with
his dreams. Early reviews: Universal acclaim.
Despicable Me (3D): (rescheduled) US, Animation/
Family – This first film from a new animation shop set up at Universal
captures much of what one likes about Pixar cartoons, but with a bit of a
European sensibility. Though it’s an American story, it was a Spanish
animator’s idea, and realized by a French animation house. It’s funny,
clever, and filled with memorable characters, all about a super villain,
voiced by Steve Carell, who is planning the biggest heist in the history of
the world: he’s going to steal the moon. Three little orphan girls challenge
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
In this symmetric deal, nine tricks can be made in notrump by
any declarer. The deal was discovered by John Beasley, and reported in “The
Games and Puzzles Journal” in 1988. I am indebted to Martin Bagnall for
bringing it to my attention.
Given the symmetry of the deal, we only need to analyze
one declarer, so let us look at South. Fundamentally, the problem for the
defense is that even though they can set up either diamonds or clubs with
one lead of the suit, both suits are blocked, and there is no immediate
entry to the hand that is set up. Isn’t declarer similarly blocked? Yes. But
look what happens to the deal when West leads a low club. North pitches a
spade, and South wins the trick in his hand, then leads a low spade to the
ten, East winning the jack, leading to:
E-W’s clubs are blocked, and West at the moment has no
entry. What does East lead here? When N-S get back in, they have seven
spades and the
A, along with
the K from
the first trick. But at this point the defense can only take two clubs and
the A before
surrendering the lead.
But what if West led a diamond? Then North covers, and,
whatever East does, South pitches a heart. Now, South only needs to lose one
heart to take seven heart tricks, plus a diamond and a spade. Finally, if
West leads a heart, he lets East pitch a club to begin an unblock, but he
does nothing to set up any of his own suits. Instead, he has blown his heart
stop. Declarer just wins three hearts (the hearts are still blocked) and
plays a low spade to the ten, and East is forced to win, leading to this
Whatever East/West pitch on the three hearts and a spade,
all they can take when East gets in is their diamond and club aces, and then
when declarer gets back in, he takes the ace and queen of spade and five
hearts, along with the first three hearts (if the defense takes the
A, North must
pitch a heart, but then South’s
What is happening here?
Each side has two suits they might try to set up. In
order to set up and run a suit, they need to lose a trick in the suit, and
then either pitch a card from the Q-10-9 holding to unblock the suit, or
lose the lead again to set up an entry to the long suit to make up for the
Now, when West leads a club, he does the first step -
losing the mandatory club trick. But the club also lets North pitch a spade,
so both sides take a step towards their respective goals. When North leads a
spade to lose to East, West gets to pitch, but he holds the Q-10-9 in
diamonds. If he pitches a diamond, East/West have taken one step towards
establishing diamonds and one step towards establishing clubs, while North/South
have taken the two steps needed to establish spades. The only problem with
all this is that I cannot imagine a bidding sequence in which any hand
actually reaches 3N and is allowed to play there!
Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For
information on the Club go to the web site www.bridgewebs.com/chiangmai. If
you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please
contact me at: [email protected]
MAIL OPINION : By Shana Kongmun
Backpacker tourism in Chiang Mai
The number one topic of discussion among
business owners in Chiang Mai is, of course, the dismal low season. While
low is expected, lower than low is worse than most people’s worst business
nightmares. Unless, of course, you go to the Tha Pae Gate area and frequent
some of the backpacker popular venues. Last Saturday night saw quite a few
large groups of young people wandering about, eating, drinking and generally
having fun. Granted, they took up all the seats at the place I had intended
on eating at, but they can’t be begrudged that so long as they are spending
I know it’s a very popular past time to revile
backpackers as unwashed, smelly, and cheap but in this group of well
dressed, clean youngsters not a hippie hair was in sight. Sure, they are
young, and yes, they are on a budget but in a town that sees very few
tourists who are we to push away those few who are visiting? I know that
the backpacker destinations of the South are also doing very well, again
they are young, they are on a budget but they are there which is more
than can be said for the average package tourists who seem to be rare
creatures these days indeed.
Australia ran a widely known survey 7 years ago,
about the economies of the backpacker destinations and the results,
while not popular with many, were irrefutable, backpackers stayed longer,
were more likely to return in the future and in the end, spent more
money locally than the average package tourist. The backpacker today is
not the hippie backpacker of the past. Most are either gap year kids
seeing the world before they start University, newly graduated
University students seeing the world before they start off on their
careers, or those who have just worked and saved for a few years for the
trip of a lifetime. And often, these very same young backpackers come
back a few years later. Usually with more money, sometimes with a
husband or wife in tow, and later, with their families as well. To
discourage them as youngsters is to lose them as they grow older as
Australia has done very well attracting the young,
backpacker with attractive visa options and ease of entrance. Even Fiji
has been working on promoting itself as a backpacker destination.
Thailand, alas, has not been quite so friendly. With a 15 day visa at
the border limiting travelers’ options, it seems unlikely that extended
stays will take place in Thailand by people who have flexible
While certainly not advocating exclusivity on
backpackers, it seems to me that exclusivity on any one kind of tourist
is also a bad idea. Everyone should feel welcome in Chiang Mai and in
How does your garden grow?:
By Eric Danell,Dokmai Garden
The world’s smallest flowering plant
During the rainy season the markets are full of fresh fruit – a feast for
the eye and the tongue. Another plant that has come into season is ‘Asian
Watermeal’, khai nam (Wolffia globosa, Lemnaceae/Araceae). It is the
world’s smallest flowering plant, and native to Thailand! In a market
situation, you will see an old lady scooping up a light green paste in
plastic bags. If you buy such a bag, and empty it in a terracotta pot of
water in your own garden, you will see many individual, but tiny, green
objects floating on the water surface. Each green object is one individual
plant. Since it has no roots, stems or leaves, such a structure is called ’thallus’.
This flowering plant mostly propagates by division, like yeast or bacterium.
Its continuous growth demands a high enzymatic activity. Enzymes are
proteins, and indeed the watermeal contains 30-40% protein. The watermeal is
therefore a most important protein source for any vegetarian. In some rare
occasions, usually when nutrients are depleted, or when there is a change in
temperature or a drought, flowers will be formed. These are so tiny (0.3mm),
that you need a dissecting microscope to see them. Each flower contains only
one stamen and one pistil, no petals. They are colourless. Each flower only
produces one seed. The seed is a way of surviving a harsh environment, such
as drought. This flower shows that it is not an alga, which is a primitive
plant without flowers. The Wolffia is a highly reduced form of an
Arum. It prefers nutrient-rich waters, which should be still, not
moving. How do you cook it? One way is to boil the watermeal in water,
adding anchovy, fish sauce and leaves of Acacia pennata (cha om) or
Hoary Basil (Ocimum americanum, ’Manglak’). If you know about another
good recipe, please let us know! www.dokmaigarden.co.th.
Life in Chiang Mai:
By Colin Jarvis
Where Do You Come From?
At least once a week I am asked “Where do you come from”?
I always answer Hang Dong, unless I am in Bangkok, in which case I answer
Chiang Mai. After all, this is where my family and I live and where I expect
to spend the rest of my life. Hang Dong is my home.
This answer usually produces a quizzical look on the face
of the questioner. “No” they reply “Where are you FROM”? What exactly do
they mean? Do they want to know my nationality, do they want to know where I
was born, or do they want to know where I have spent most of my life? The
answer is different in each case.
My reply gives me the opportunity to expand on each of
the three possible answers which are guaranteed to leave the questioner
confused and possibly wishing they had never asked the question in the first
Of course, all they are really doing is trying to make
polite conversation. Any answer I give is unlikely to provide them with any
useful information and as a peg on which to hang future conversation
replying Hang Dong is as good an answer as any, better in fact.
But let us look at this question in a little more depth.
If two identical twins were separated at birth and one brought up in Dallas,
Texas and the other in Bangkok I am sure they would grow up to be very
different people. Where we grow up; the culture, the people we associate
with, the education we receive, the TV programmes we watch, the food we eat;
they all help us develop in a particular way. Our environment helps make us
what we are or what we are to become.
If we know where someone comes from we can assume a great
many things about them. We can put them in an appropriate box in our mind
and this helps us with our social interaction.
So what my questioners are attempting to do is to put me
into a mental box so that they can make assumptions about me, my
personality, character and likely behaviour. In the case of retailers, no
doubt they will also make an assumption as to how much I am going to spend.
I don’t know about you but I, personally, do not like
other people putting me into mental boxes. I like to think I am unique but I
am sure it is not really true. I am sure my dislike is more a matter of ego
and pomposity rather than a real concern for better understanding.
Understanding where someone comes from can give us an
insight into the person they are. It can be a very useful shortcut to smooth
social interaction. If I know you are from a different culture it is easier
for me to forgive your social gaffes. If I offer you food I am likely to
check to make sure it is food you can eat.
Putting people in boxes can give us an insight, providing
they have spent most of their formative years in one place. So the question
“Where do you come from?” is a good one. It is better than asking where were
you born or what nationality are you, as it does actually give one a better
insight into the other persons likely needs and wants.
I suppose I should really answer the question by replying
“UK”. This will allow the questioner to put me in their mental box that is
most likely to be helpful to them. Answering that I was born in London,
brought up as a Scot, and lived most of my life in America, Southeast Asia
and many different places in Europe is more likely to confuse them rather
than clarify their mind. However, to me, Hang Dong is where I am from. For
the first time in my life I feel I am actually home. Everywhere else was
simply part of a journey to arrive here. Unless I say I am from Hang Dong I
feel I am letting the village down. I like Hang Dong, I am proud of Hang
Dong, I feel happy and content when I am in Hang Dong. If I pretend I am
from somewhere else I feel guilty, I feel I am telling a lie.
It is no good, if asked the question, I am going to have
to say Hang Dong, unless I am in Bangkok, in which case I will say Chiang
By Heather Allen
Phrae is a sleepy traditional old town
The home of the last Jao Luang of Phrae.
Phrae is well known for its many temples, and as one of
the oldest cities in Thailand, they certainly abound. Tradition has it that
Phrae and Nan were ruled by two brothers, when they met to divide the land
between them, one brother rode a horse, the other a buffalo to the meeting
point. To this day, the seal of Phrae has a horse, and that of Nan a
Wat Phra That Cho Hae in Phrae is one of the many temples that abound.
Located about 4 or 5 hours drive from Chiang Mai, it may
be a bit longer than a day trip, but if you leave early in the morning, its
certainly doable in one day. However, given the abundance of temples, the
museum at Wat Luang, the many beautiful old colonial era homes and the Seri
Thai museum there, you may want to spend the night and head out to Mae Yom
Park the next day, the last remaining reserves of the huge teak forests that
used to cover Phrae.
The Seri Thai museum is quite interesting as it houses
many old World War II relics and covers the history of the Seri Thai
movement in Thailand during the war. But the gems of Phrae have to be the
Vongburi house and the house of the Khum Jao Luang. Belonging to the last
Jao Luang or Royally appointed ruler of the city, this beautiful old teak
houses has been beautifully restored and boasts colonial era architecture.
Phrae can be reached by heading to Lampang, along Highway
11 after Lampang, turn onto Highway 101. Alternatively, the train stops at
Den Chai from Chiang Mai but you would have to arrange transport once you
arrived there. Its about 280 km.
Tips from the Podology Center
by Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon
A problem common among expats and Thais alike in the heat
and humidity of the tropics is the perspiring foot or Hyperhydrosis and some
hints on how to overcome this embarrassing problem.
The perspiring foot stems from an overreaction of the
perspiratory glands caused by chronic discomfort, too spicy food, coffee
or tea, nicotine or alcohol or onions, wrong shoes and bad hygiene.
It’s not always easy to accept advice but to avoid
smelly feet its necessary! Stop smoking, drinking alcohol and don’t eat
spicy food at all. Bathe your feet every evening before you go to bed in
lukewarm milk with 4 tablespoons salt. A peeling would be good from time
to time. Honey and salt mixed together gives a perfect skin peel and it
is easy to produce yourself. You can also spray your feet with 70 %
disinfection with alcohol inside or with 3 % hydrogen peroxide every
morning and every evening.
Change your socks a few times a day, best to wear
only pure cotton socks or the so-called toe-socks where each toe has an
individual cover. Never wear shoes without socks
Lemongrass spray helps to get rid of the smell.
If you continue to have this problem even after
taking these measures you should try treatment with Iontophorese,
electroimpulstherapie, Botox injections, partly numbing of nerves or
special medication. In some cases bath salt with aluminium-chlorate and
cr่mes and sprays will help.
Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon works at the Podology
Center in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and treats all kind of feet problems.
More info at: www.mft-thailand.com.