Vol. IX No. 29 - Tuesday
July 20 - July 26, 2010



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


MAILBAG
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Concerned repeat visitor

Parking at the Walking Street market

Chai Blues House?

Limey squeezers

World Class healthcare?

People who complain there’s nothing to do

 

Concerned repeat visitor

Dear Editor:

Today, Chiang Mai Government officials have started to enact draconian anti-drinking and smoking regulations in the city. Signs are posted showing that drinking alcohol is only permitted between the hours of 11:00 and 14:00, and between 17:00 and 24:00 hours in all restaurants and bars.

Also, smoking is not permitted in any establishment, resulting in a fine against the establishment of up to 20,000 Baht if a patron should not obey these laws. Please note it is not the patron who is fined for being caught smoking, it is he/she fined for having someone smoking in his/her premises, over which he/she has no control. If I wish to light a cigarette he/she would have to call the police to have me ejected, and they would have no interest in the matter. And he/she would be liable to the fine, for something he/she did not do.

But, does this apply to any and all establishments?

Are these officials going to attend the premises of the larger hotels that supply alcohol to their patrons as they eat meals between the prohibited times of 14:00 to 17:00, and issue the 20,000 fines? I think that we know the answer.

Of course not!

These businesses are owned by rich people, who can afford to challenge the authorities. For all the others, those no so well off, they have no choice but to obey. Therefore these are punitive taxes against those to live day-to-day and not against those who live in comparative luxury.

Are these regulations really necessary? The answer is NO!

All they will do is further drive the visitors who supply so much to the regions finances away, and deprive even more Chiang Mai residents of a living income.

I would like to suggest the following: (these conclusions are not based on scientific fact, but merely someone who has returned 3 times every year for 2 1/2 years, and who sends 50,000 Baht each month to keep others from poverty).

1. Roughly 30% of Chiang Mai residents rely on the financial input of foreign visitors.

2, I would suggest that 30% of these visitors smoke.

3. Of those, 100% enjoy the escape from meddling bureaucrats in their own countries, and do not relish being under another.

4. Thailand as a whole and Northern Thailand in particular, has seen a drop over the past 2 years of visiting tourists This decline has accelerated over the past 3 months for reasons well known. It is also a well known fact that the number of farang in Chiang Mai at any one time has dropped drastically.

Does it really make sense to alienate 10% of income producers in Chiang Mai? And for what reason? Has there been a groundswell of objection? I cannot find anyone that has asked for this. There are many other places for a farang to visit that do not make life uncomfortable. Chiang Rai in the North, and so many other places in Southern Thailand.

Would it not be better to clean up Loi Kroh? Prostitution is already illegal, and although ‘it does not exist’, a great many farang would like to see it disappear completely. Prostitution harms all those who have to endure it, but smoking only harms those that partake.

I think that a rethink is required, and very soon.

Mr., Governor, is it not illegal to parade an Elephant down Loi Kroh, with the handlers asking money to feed him/her? I understand that there is a Federal Law requiring those that do to face a fine of 10,000 Baht. Why not enforce existing laws?

I write this drinking a beer, and having a cigarette, not even thinking about bar-girls, but loving Chiang Mai, and all this lovely city’s people.

Sawasdee Krap
John Ford

 

Parking at the Walking Street market

Dear Editor

I parked my motorbike at the Walking Street Market, in a row with many other bikes. There were “no parking” signs (in Thai—no English but I could figure out that’s what they were) however, they were lined up with bikes (more than 20) parked in between so I (wrongly!) thought that it was no parking on either side of the sign and that parking was allowed in between the signs so parked alongside the other bikes and went happily shopping. I returned a couple of hours later to find my bike chained with a ticket.

I then had to find a policewoman (who was very polite) to find out where to go since I had no idea. Imagine my dismay to find out that I had to go all the way over to the police station near Nawarat Bridge.

I had to pay a tuk tuk to take me, wait for me and return me. I had to pay the fine. Conveniently, there is an ATM machine located at the police station.

I must say the police were all very friendly and polite and had my bike unchained as soon as the ticket had been paid, but let’s be honest here. It was a ridiculous mess. And to chain a few bikes but leave others smacks of something, what I am not yet sure. Signage, in English and Thai would be a good idea at a market that is held to attract all tourists and visitors, I would think. Maybe a sign that says NO PARKING ON THIS SIDE OF THE STREET in English would have saved me some hassle.

Signed
Chained in Chiang Mai


Chai Blues House?

Dear Editor

I went to Chai Blues House with a friend of mine the other night and it appeared to be closed! Granted, it was a week night, but I must say it gave me quite a shock to see this iconic place dark. I do hope it’s a temporary thing and that it will re-open soon. I hope Chai Blues House isn’t a victim of the complete downturn in tourism in Chiang Mai. I hope that the local residents and expats haven’t forgotten this place and the man who made it so terrific. Isn’t it time we residents started going out and helping our local venues survive this difficult times?

Yours,
A blues fan


Limey squeezers

Dear Editor,

I recently received a letter asking where to find the limey squeezers I had mentioned in my column. They can be found around Chiang Mai and we also sell them here at Dokmai Gardens. Additionally, we are in the process of creating a mango family tree, containing chog-anan as rootstock, inoculated with ooklong, nam dokmai and the Australian Palmer. A mango miracle! They should be ready for the sales nursery in about two months.

Regards
Eric Danell, Dokmai Garden


World Class healthcare?

Dear Editor

Thailand has been promoted as a world class health care provider for many years now. Yet, when things go wrong medically, VERY WRONG, what recourse do we have as recipients of shoddy health care, where do we turn?

No lawyer will take on the CM Ram, we have heard. As for private shoddy practitioners, they too rule without regard to medical ethics. To whom does the ‘farang’ turn for help?

Is there an answer to this dilemma? Can it be investigated out and reported to your readers.

Thank you.
Anna Wons from Chiang Mai


People who complain there’s nothing to do

Dear Editor,

I recently ran into a man who complained about how boring Chiang Mai was. This while we were sitting at the North Gate Jazz Co-op, listening to some excellent jazz. The dichotomy of the situation struck me as quite funny but apparently, he couldn’t see it himself.

Chiang Mai has so much to offer artistically, musically and socially that I have to wonder about these people who find themselves bored with nothing to do. Don’t these people check the community calendar? Don’t they get out any further than the Loi Kroh barstool they seem to like to prop up?

Even if you don’t like art or music, there are plenty of athletic things to do. Golf is very popular here and reasonably priced. Lessons are available from pros who generally speak enough English to instruct. If not golf, then tennis, or biking, or mountain biking, and hiking or running with the Hash House Harriers. There are photography clubs, bridge or chess clubs, book clubs. There are classes at CMU, art classes, and dance lessons. Hey, you could even spend some of your spare time taking Thai lessons and improving your Thai language skills.

Perhaps it’s just that it’s easier to say there is nothing to do then get up and do something?

Signed
Not even remotely bored in Chiang Mai



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