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

Tips from the Podology Center


The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Dupuytren’s Contracture - The ‘Viking Disease’

The early Vikings colonized much of Europe over 1,000 years ago but the longboats carried more than just warriors. They carried a remarkable genetic disease producing contracture of the fingers on either hand, and which was later called Dupuytren’s Contracture after Baron Guillaume Dupuytren.

Dupuytren’s contracture generally affects the fourth and fifth fingers of the hands and slowly flexes the fingers towards the palm of the hand. Eventually the fingers cannot be straightened out and the sufferer cannot put his hand in his pocket without catching the finger(s) and it also becomes difficult to shake hands, as the flexed fingers make it difficult to open the hand. The amount of flexure is stated in degrees - up to 60 degrees covers mild to moderate cases, whilst more than 60 degrees is considered severe contracture.

It is a relatively common condition, with a global prevalence of 3-6 percent with the highest percentage being in Scandinavian countries. Countries that have seen a high level of immigration from Northern Europe see a notably higher rate of occurrence. In Australia for example, it is estimated that 30 percent of people over the age of 60 are affected.

It is considered to be an inherited, genetic disorder. One study examined 832 relatives of 50 people with Dupuytren’s contracture and found that 68 percent of the relatives were affected by the condition. Because of this, it is not a condition that is accepted by insurance companies in many countries. Males outweigh females in the ratio of at least 3:1 and the vast majority of cases are also older than 50 years. The peak incidence is around 60-70 years in women and 50 years in men. If you have this condition, you shared it with Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher, but it is not a guarantee of becoming the leader of a country.

In common with many people whose antecedents came from the UK, I too have the Viking disease, given to me by a longboat man from Denmark or Norway on one of his R&P (rape and pillage) visits some one thousand years ago. He did not leave his name. And in keeping with the genetic component, my mother has the condition as well!

The usual treatment to correct this condition is surgery, but requires the skill of a specialist in hand surgery. It is also not an easy procedure, as the thickened and contracted tissues (called the aponeurosis) in the palm of the hand have to de dissected out from the nerves and arteries which can be caught up in the thickened tissue. Not only is surgery difficult, but the recurrence is also very high, with recurrence rate figures estimated to be in the range of 20-40 percent after five years.

However, there is another surgical technique, known as Needle Aponeurotomy (NA), which does not call for surgical dissection, but is carried out under local anesthesia and involves partially cutting the thickened tissue with the side of a needle. Following this, forced extension of the affected fingers results in the snapping of the aponeurosis, allowing the finger(s) to straighten out once more.

NA procedures are not without problems either, but the incidence of side effects appears to be less than surgery. The drawback is the recurrence rate, which seems to be around 50 percent after a few years, but on the plus side, NA can be repeated. NA is also not a common procedure, with many hand surgeons preferring to continue with the ‘tried and true’ surgical techniques.

Now, back to my own condition. Over the past 15 years the flexion deformity in my little finger of my right hand has progressed to the stage of around 60 degrees. I was unable to push a door open with my palm and shaking hands was difficult with the finger being unable to extend. People began to think I was giving them a secret handshake!

I discussed this with my hospital’s hand surgeon Dr. Suradej and between us agreed to give NA a trial. That was two weeks ago, and my deformity is now only 10 degrees. We are now watching carefully. I will let you know how it is progressing, but so far it looks very hopeful.



This little lady is Chelley. She has only just arrived at the shelter (July 2010) as her owner couldn’t keep her anymore. We, however, are anxious to find her a loving home as soon as possible so we can keep her in the manner in which she is accustomed. She has warm, bright eyes, lovely markings and a charming personality – oh, and a bushy tail to match! If you think you can offer Chelley the forever home she so needs and deserves. Contact the shelter English (08 47 52 52 55) or Thai language (08 69 13 87 01) to make an appointment to meet her, Email: [email protected] or visit the website www. for further info.

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,

I am a German and I am reading the Mail since ever and just because of your column. I do not live in Thailand and I am thinking some of your advices should be printed in a small brochure and to be handed over to passengers whilst final approach on Suvarnabhumi. Your answers always give me a good laugh Fridays.

Anyhow, now living here permanently since many years, this letter to you is just in ref. to the German fellow named Helmut, who wrote about missing mail from Germany.

You are absolutely right that someone should put the banknotes between some other folded papers but he should also in any case mail the letter as registered mail. Sending registered letters from Germany means that in case of loss the sender is able to claim the loss in fulfilling a certain formula. Be sure that a registered letter can be followed up to the final point and be sure that there is a certain department at the Post Headquarters in Bangkok and they are damn serious in that cases. What ever the result will be, the sender will receive his money back in meaning of the fees only. It is on his risk to send money.

So I just had two losses. In one case an ambush and robbery on such a van in Germany. In the other case it has been stolen from the safe inside the Post-Office in Thailand, which has been open and not been over watched just for a very short period. Not only did I get the money back, but I had to prepare a letter to be sent to the Headquarter in Bangkok describing that I forgive the man in charge who made it possible that the thief could grab the letter, which I have done.

If the sender is using bi-lingual address labels there will be less problems. Handwritten address and not in capital block letters can be a problem and will cause delays for sure.

I am receiving registered small parcels from Germany regularly and the valuable content of it is mentioned outside on the tax declaration. I have never lost such a parcel. So due to my experience there are more stolen letters within Germany itself. Special the letters containing credit cards like Amex which are coming by normal Mail from Brighton U.K. and any idiot knows what’s inside. I have cancelled my membership after 25 years for that reason even if the cards are worthless for the thief due to security things.

So finally in case that Mr. Helmut was sending a registered letter, he can claim it as lost. It is free of charges and he will get his postage fee back for sure and he will find out if the girl was lying. A registered letter has to be signed on receipt, so the girl can’t lie without having problems (she would have for sure if I would be the postman).

For me it seems that Mr. Helmut is not so much in love based on the amount he did send to his bar-girl. Hard times for the water-buffalos are in sight.

Looking forward in reading more of your advices to the inexperienced rookies my best regards and all good wishes to you.
Ronald from Rayong

Dear Ronald from Rayong,
Thank you very much for all your advice, Petal (but I did have to shorten you letter a little, sorry). However, with electronic transfer of funds these days, the easiest way is to do a bank transfer from your (German or wherever) account, to an ATM based account here. Of course, as you say, if you are running a ‘funny money’ account, then you have to be careful! Put a ceiling on the amount that can be withdrawn as a daily amount too.

Dear Hillary,
Re the chap trying to transfer money to his lady friend and wondering if she is telling lies that she didn’t get the money, it is guineas to gooseberries that this is a con. These girls are past masters at it, and even any girl fresh from the rice farm picks up the method in a week, from the excellent teachers at the bar. Any foreigner who transfers money to Thailand for a girl he met in a bar on a two week holiday deserves to be ripped off (and he definitely will). There’s enough books written on the subject. But I wonder if some of these people can even read.
UK Jeff

Dear UK Jeff,
You have pointed out some well documented problems, but I wonder from the tone of your letter, whether you might be a little bitter? Did you get ripped off at some time in the past, Jeff? It is very easy to get suckered in, trying to make the holiday romance feeling continue from thousands of kilometers away, while sitting in the cold and wet and remembering the warm summer nights in Thailand. I have advised so many over the years, to have the holiday fling, enjoy the warm ways of the professional ladies from the bars, but to always remember, that is their job.

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Shadow Boxing

With the advent of color photography, the emphasis on lighting became (apparently) less. Photographers spent much time looking for blue doors to use for a model in a yellow dress. Eye-catching, colorful and powerful images were the new mantra.

B&W beach shot using shadow

However, with the advent of digital photography, and the ability to instantly review what you had taken, there became a shift back to looking at lighting.

The true “definition” of photography has often been said as “painting with light” and quite honestly, this concept of painting with light is one of the more exciting aspects of photography. It is also something that even the weekend photographer can experiment with and produce photographs that will amaze not just you, but also those who view them, with their ability to leap off the paper.

The secret of painting with light is to remember that all photographs should have a mixture of light, and its opposite, called shadow. Blasting the subject with a sea of light produces flat, wishy-washy photographs. This is why I am not in favor of the in-camera flash that pumps out enough light power to illuminate the moon. To produce shots with depth requires shadow. Just as when you look at a house, the sun casts a shadow which gives the house depth, as well as height and width. Depth is the third dimension, and without it you only have a two dimensional flat image. For the impression of 3D, you need shadow.

Now getting back to the job of taking photographs and painting with a bit of light. The usual light source is the one I like to call the Great Celestial Light Technician. This is more commonly referred to as the sun. Now the sun will supply enough light to illuminate half the world at one sitting, so there’s plenty of power for your subject and then some.

However, that sunlight is not all that suitable for most of the day, because when the sun is directly overhead, you do not get nice shadows. In the early mornings or late afternoons, when the sun is closer to the horizon, the shadows are longer, more visible and give more depth. So as well as being a more flattering light in the golden glow afternoons, the sun is at a better angle to give good shadows. So to improve your daytime shots only shoot between sunrise and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. till sunset.

Do not be afraid to let shadow into the shot. Position your subject so that they are not square on to the sun, but let the light come from about 45 degrees across the subject. Shadow adds mystery. Shadow adds that extra something. Use it!

Now let’s look at when you provide the principal source of light, after the sun has disappeared. There are actually many sources of light after dark - there is the electronic flash, both the “on camera” type and the off camera type, there are tungsten studio lights, there are tungsten spotlights (like the garden varieties), there are street lights, neon lights and even car headlights. All these light sources are at you beck and call, and all (other than the on camera flash) can work for you to produce great shots. Just look at where the shadows lie.

Many of you have a small flash unit that slips on to the “shoe” on the top of your camera. Do not use it there! Go and invest in a remote shoe. This comes with some electric cord that plugs into the camera body and has a shoe plate at the end of it that slips over the foot of your flash. You can buy extension cords too, and I would advise getting one about three meters long. Now you can position your subject anywhere you like and let the flash come down upon the subject at 45 degrees and you will get a much better photograph than the flash on top of camera straight on shot. Try it.

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Is Small Beautiful?

Hypothetically, if you invest in good, attractive smaller companies then they should provide you with good long term growth. This is because the returns are based upon the premise that smaller companies normally keep a good percentage of the earnings they have made so they can continue to increase the size of the business. Also, any good small company should be able to be more flexible and respond quickly as and when opportunities come along which will enable them to make good profit quickly.

On top of this, if a small company that is actively managed and well run is operating in a larger marketplace then it should be capable of continuing to expand its share of that particular sector without annoying any of the larger players in the same market.

Many people, including fund managers, do not look at small companies because of all the inherent risks that go with investing in them. This means that not as much research is done on them as could be. In turn, this indicates that there is huge potential to buy this sort of investment at very attractive prices which means that any buyers could make excellent returns on their money. That is the good news. The bad is that, as indicated above, it is very possible to lose a lot of money on smaller companies. This is can be seen by the fact the AltX Index has lost almost 75% in the last couple of years.

So, how do we at MBMG sort the wheat from the chaff? Below, we will show how we go about looking into smaller companies and what is required from them in order for us to invest in them.

First of all, why do we want to invest in this type of company? Well, Scott Campbell and Martin Gray of MitonOptimal Guernsey and MBMG core partners, advocate that committing to certain small companies will add value to a portfolio. This is not only due to improved capital growth but also because it adds diversification.

One of the main problems though is liquidity constraints as it can take quite a bit of time to add to or get out of the original investment. This is why we keep on about long term growth and not short term. However, it is important not to plough in without thinking or doing the proper research into the company you want to invest it.

It is vital to understand the business methodologies of the company you are looking at. From this you will be able to gauge the risk factor and assess whether or not it meets with your risk/reward ratio. Important areas to look at are such things as: the strategy the company has devised for itself, the business sector it is trying to get into or how well it is doing once it has established itself, the risk factors and the long term goals of the company itself.

A lot of the companies you may want to look at will only have been set up a short while ago and so there will not be a lot of history to look at to see how well or badly they have been doing. When this happens the investor must take a very careful look at the board of directors and/or managers of the company as it is these people who will make or break the company.

Once the assessment of the management team has been done and the investor is happy with the findings, it is very important to then look at the actual information they provide on their own company. One of the many surprising factors we have found is that the management teams of many new companies are more concerned about what the shares of the company are worth as opposed to the actual running of the company and seeing how this will be of far more benefit in the long term.

Whist it is very true that shares can be a means to extra funding it is much better to look at a company which is well run, tightly managed and more concerned about the long term goals and growth of the business rather than tomorrow’s stock prices. It is very rare that the growth in the value of shares does not follow an increase in profits.

Another important factor for investors is that the management team of the company that has been invested is in active communication with both the market place and the individual investor. This should be done when good AND bad things occur. When the latter happens it is not uncommon for people to be left in the dark about what is going on and this can lead to catastrophe as it can bring about loss in confidence and then large scale stock selling. By good communication this can be avoided especially if the management has continued to provide up to date reports on its long and short term strategy and goals thus showing its investors that it should always be in a position to make capital available for high returns. There is a good argument to say that the old days of being able to fool the market with earnings per share growth which has been done by mergers and acquisitions while totally ignoring a good return on invested capital are now a thing of the past.

Hand in hand with good communication is the way a company does its reports. It is vital to see how a company actually makes its profits and also how they report these gains. It is also very important that they do not change the structure of how this is done. Some companies, big as well as small, are infamous for changing the way they report almost each and every year. This makes the accounts difficult to follow and raises questions as to why this has been done.

One final thing which will also please potential investors is that the directors/management of a small company are in tune with what the shareholders want. This can be done by having a reasonable amount of shares in the company as well or by providing good incentive schemes. By doing this, outside investors will see that those who run the company are also sharing in the risk and this, at least, should indicate they will be careful with any and all the money which has been invested in the company.

Whilst many large fund managers have now run to the large caps for safety, there are still lots of opportunities for investing in good, small companies that have the right structures in place. Small businesses should outperform over a period of time. However, one does have to be careful in selecting which to go with and which to avoid. A company that knows its business and concentrates on what it does well will nearly always be able to look after its shareholders and this is what MBMG and its strategic partners MitonOptimal are constantly looking out for.

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

Rope – and James Stewart

Shortly before re-seeing Alfred Hitchcock’s piece of technical wizardry, Rope, I saw its star in an earlier work, The Shop Around the Corner (1940). James Stewart co-starred with his then lover Margaret Sullavan (she got top billing) and they went straight to a much finer movie for Frank Borzage, The Mortal Storm.

This anti-fascist work was Stewart’s best before he did two things: he married his only wife Gloria – they remained devotedly married until her death after which he became a semi-recluse – and he joined the U.S. Armed Forces, well before Pearl Harbour. He was the first Hollywood star to ‘join up’ and had a long and distinguished record.

Rope (1948) was one of the films that rekindled his dormant career. It was preceded by It’s A Wonderful Life and Magic Town and other ‘soft’ films. But he and his only serious rival in the charm and comedy stakes, Cary Grant, realised the need to re-invent themselves. Their great hits such as The Philadephia Story were things of the past. The world had darkened after the depression and WWII. It was the era of neo- realism and film noir, of movies about racism, sexuality and social issues. Modern cinema had ‘arrived’.

Luckily for them a few directors came to the rescue; Hitchcock for both of them, John Ford and especially Anthony Mann for Stewart and Howard Hawks for Grant. Eight years before Rope, Stewart had looked coltishly handsome, belying his 32 years. By the time of Rope he was 40 and greying. Within two years he was embarked on a rich period, from 1950 until the very early sixties, immortalising his career. He starred in over 20 movies, including three more for Hitchcock: Rear Window, Vertigo and The Man Who Knew Too Much. In the masterly Vertigo he played an obsessionist whose sexual hysteria has been likened to the director’s own.

They fell out later when Hitch considered the actor too old for North by Northwest and cast Grant (actually older but better preserved!).

Stewart flourished in the series of great westerns such as Where the River Bends for Mann, but the persona created by that director was so dark that eventually they too parted company during Night Passage. The film was completed by a TV director. Stewart never surpassed these and other angst ridden roles such as the lawyer in Anatomy of a Murder and the revenge- crazed cowboy in The Far Country or the obsessed bounty hunter in The Naked Spur.

Rope was a precursor to these very ‘adult’ roles and it was something of an oddity, being shot in Hollywood but part financed by a friend of the director in the U.K. It was adapted from a popular play by one of Britain’s finest novelists, Patrick Hamilton. Its novelty lies in Hitchcock’s decision not to ‘open up’ the play and create an artificial film out of the original medium but – with characteristic brilliance, not to say perversity – to take a contradictory experimental route.

He shot Rope as a seeming continuum, in eight dove-tailed takes, each lasting around ten minutes (then the maximum possible on 35m.m. film), linking the sequences by dissolves as the camera moves into the back of an actor. Only one conventional edit occurs and that is a cut from a conversation to a medium close up of Stewart as he puzzles over what has been said. Four skilled camera operators carried out this tour de force.

Hitchcock loathed location work, preferring the discipline of the studio and the safety of ‘editing in the camera’, leaving no room for studio interference.

Rope takes place on one set, two interconnecting rooms, with a painted backdrop of New York outside the apartment windows. It is shot in real time with just ten actors.

The central characters, the murderers, are variations of the Chicago killers, Leopold and Loeb, who wanted to ‘try everything’ for the thrill of it. Stewart plays their former teacher who gets his come- uppance when he unveils their crime and realises that his philosophy has contributed to their insane actions. It’s a suspense piece, held together by party prattle with fine support by Cedric Hardwicke as the victim’s father. The urbane presence of Stewart and Hitchcock’s bravura direction redeem any weaknesses. It opens in the style of Psycho, but ends on a lack lustre climax. Did the director get bored?

Jean Renoir dismissed the film saying, ‘It’s a film about homosexuals and they don’t even show the boys kissing’. I think he failed to appreciate the sub text, which is clear and ahead of its time. Explicit films about the infamous duo – Compulsion and Swoon – were a long way off. If the film is not vintage Hitchcock or Stewart, it is still well worth watching. It and other films by the director and star are available at the DVD Film and Music shop at 289 Suthep Road, Chiang Mai.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Note: Airport Plaza will be on holiday schedule Thursday and Friday, opening at 10 a.m.

Now playing in Chiang Mai

Salt: US, Action/ Thriller – Bombastic, complicated, old-school spy action-thriller, starring Angelina Jolie. Angelina is a marvel to watch as she plays a CIA officer on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture and prove her innocence. Generally favorable reviews.

Step Up 3D: US, Drama/ Music/ Romance – Breakdancers! Third installment of the Step Up series, popular with fans of dance films. Despite the title, not yet showing in 3D here – now 2D and only at Airport Plaza.

Boonchu 10: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – Another in the homespun teen comedy series of a country boy’s adventures in Bangkok. In Thai only at Vista, English subtitles at Airport Plaza.

The Last Airbender: US, Action/ Adventure/ Family/ Fantasy – I saw this yet again last Wednesday, this time in 3D (the 3D prices go down to 150 baht on Wednesday “Movie Day” at Airport Plaza). The 3D was a hasty decision of the producers at the last minute, and the final cut of the 2D film, shortened by 25 minutes, was hurriedly transformed into 3D by a post-production process of questionable quality. It’s not good 3D. We should call this process something like “2D Plus” to distinguish it from real 3D, planned from the beginning for 3D using 3D equipment.

You have a choice of seeing it in either 2D or 3D at Airport plaza; at Vista it’s only in 2D and is Thai-dubbed. Generally unfavorable reviews, one point away from the category “Overwhelming dislike.”

My recommendation still is to buy the truly fine 61-episode American animated television series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and skip the movie.

Inception: US/ UK, Drama/ Mystery/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A brilliant and extraordinarily challenging film that has gotten ecstatic reviews from those attuned to director Christopher Nolan’s brand of mind games. For them, a not-to-be-missed event. Highly recommended. Generally favorable reviews.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Completely disposable. If you have nothing else to do and want to waste a couple of hours without thinking too much, this is one way to do it. Especially if you like the persona of Nicolas Cage. Apparently Cage wanted to make a feature length movie based upon the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment of Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Cage plays the sorcerer and Jay Baruchel plays an average college student who becomes the apprentice – the character played by Mickey Mouse. I am way put off by the physical mannerisms and irritating, whiney, unpleasant voice of Jay Baruchel. I don’t know how he got to be such a star.

Mixed or average reviews. Vista also has a Thai-dubbed version.

Tukky: Thai, Comedy/ Romance – Thai fantasy tale of an ugly princess in a magical land, and the top Thai film at the moment. English subtitles at Airport Plaza, in Thai only at Vista.

Scheduled for August 12

Toy Story 3: US, Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy/ Family/ Fantasy – I have seen this, and I think it is inspired. I loved every minute of it. Andy, the boy who owns the toys, is now 17 and ready to head off to college, leaving Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, and the rest of the toy-box gang to ponder their uncertain futures. Starring the voices of Tom Hanks and many other talented actors; there are 302 characters in the film! Reviews: Universal acclaim.

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

There is a new contender for the bridge partnership greatest friction award, with most unfortunate consequences for one of the pair. Stephen Green was recently tried for the murder of his wife and regular bridge partner, Carole, at their flat in northern England.

Mr. Green apparently considered himself a much better player than his wife. Indeed, newspapers have reported that he played in the 1998 Bridge World Championships, but this may in fact have been another Stephen Green. Diana and Peter Sizer, fellow members of Lytham Bridge Club, told the court that club members would regularly visit each other’s houses socially for card games and travel together for competitions across the country. Debates over how hands were played would take place at local pubs afterwards, the court was told. Mrs. Sizer said: “Initially it was fun. It was very competitive. After bridge congresses we would print out the hands we played to compare them and discuss what we had done right,” she said. “It was all very good-humoured and enjoyable.” It was noticeable that Mr. Green’s attitude changed over the past three years. He began drinking heavily, leading to vicious criticism of his wife’s prowess at the card table, and he threatened to throw her off the balcony of their flat during one bad-tempered game.

In January this year Carole Green was found stabbed approximately 100 times with an eight-inch knife. In his defence, Mr. Green claimed the death was the result of a bizarre accident and that he had inadvertently plunged the knife (100 times!) into her when he fell on her. The jury apparently did not find this explanation convincing. He was found guilty and sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Bridge Club of Chiang Mai fortunately has no partnerships anything like the Greens. We welcome new players (though we would pass on Stephen Green if he happened to get parole and pay Chiang Mai a visit). 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

Walking Street Market at the Night Bazaar

A recent decision to close the Night Bazaar road to traffic on Saturdays and Sundays for a Walking Street Market is surely a good thing for the area that has seen quite a downturn in customers in recent years. And yes, some of this has to be due to the difficulty in just crossing the street to see what’s on the other side!

But it must also be credited to a few other factors as well and one that vendors, landlords and the municipality need to look at if they want to attract tourists and locals back to the area.

One of those factors has to be the very narrow sidewalks and the difficulty of navigating them with everything so tightly packed in. Will the new Walking Street Market change this? I hope so.

Another factor that needs to be considered are the higher prices found at the Night Bazaar. Nearly every long term resident I know hesitates to shop there because of the heavy bargaining that must take place in order to get the prices down. And while we can certainly understand the vendors attitudes when some tourists are more than happy to shell out whatever asked, this doesn’t mean that word doesn’t get around and it keeps more than a few people away. Perhaps the rents are quite high for these people and that is why the need for higher prices than can be found in other markets in the city. Perhaps it’s just the fact that it’s a well known tourist destination. But when times are tight and tourists thin on the ground, some thought needs to be given to attracting local residents as well.

And finally, for those who don’t drive themselves, haggling with tuk tuks and songthaews in the area is difficult, and for those who do drive, parking is not always the easiest. There is the Chinese temple on Loi Kroh (which closes its parking lot by the way) and there is the parking structure at the Dusit D2. But many hesitate to use that as it is believed (rightly or wrongly) to be restricted to those visiting the Dusit D2. Better signage might help.

So, by all means, bring on the Walking Street Market at the Night Bazaar. As a keen shopper I plan on visiting it. I just hope that it is well organized enough to tempt me back over and over again.

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

Where does the biggest mango grow in Lanna?

The other day I received the latest issue of Flora of Thailand. This series aims at describing all vascular plants in Thailand, including keys for their identification. The work began in 1970, and the world’s best specialists collaborate in covering the 12000 Thai species. Flora of Thailand can be bought at the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, Dokmai Garden and Suriwong bookstore. The latest issue (vol. 10 part 3, 2010) covers the mangos. There are about 40 species in tropical Asia, of which 17 occur in Thailand. One of these species is the Common mango, Mangifera indica (ma-muang), the well known producer of the delicious mango fruit. Like apple, which is one species, mango has many varieties producing different fruits with different acidity, colour and texture. ’Nam Dokmai’, ’Chog Annan’ and ’Ooklong’ are three famous varieties.

Among the wild forest mangos, there is one which occurs fairly commonly around Chiang Mai. That is Mangifera caloneura (ma muang pa). It has edible fruits too, but smaller and more sour than cultivated common mangos. Such fruits are delicious if eaten with nam phrik and a cold beer on a hot day. Since this mango is believed to be the home of powerful spirits, such trees have often been spared the otherwise devastating clear cuttings for timber. Such giants may give us a hint about what the Lanna forests may have looked like before the logging. Most forests we see today are secondary forests, i.e. they are still in a stage of recovery.

We ask the readers of the Chiang Mai Mail to measure and report giant mangos. Do not worry about the species identification, as long as you know it is one of the 17 mangos. The whereabouts of the largest trees will be published later. You can submit discoveries via e-mail to me. If possible, add a driving direction and GPS coordinates too. When you measure the circumference, do it at the base of the tree, as the bole is quite cylindrical. As a teaser, the Dokmai Garden mango tree is 397 cm in circumference at the base, and at breast height 389 cm.

Life in Chiang Mai: By Colin Jarvis

Whatever Happened To Tom,Dick and Harry?

Tom was a nice man. His wife Mary was nice too. They came from Manchester in England when they retired in order to live in Thailand some 20 years ago. Chiang Mai was definitely the place to be for them as it was a little cooler and less hectic than Bangkok. Tom played golf three times a week on some of the best courses in the world; Mary learned how to cook Thai food, gave great dinner parties, and helped at a number of charities. They had very active, fulfilling lives when, sadly, Mary died quite suddenly. Tom carried on as usual though he had to eat out more often as his own culinary skills were not as good as his wife’s. He still played golf but not quite as often as he was getting a little infirm.

Tom had small company pension. He could afford to live in Chiang Mai as long as he was reasonably careful. Then, one day, he had a stroke. He was taken into hospital and given the best possible care but when he eventually returned home he discovered that the medical bills used up all his savings. He thought very carefully for quite a long time and consulted with his friends. It was no longer possible for him to play golf and indeed all he could really manage was to sit in a chair, watch television or read, and wait for his helpful neighbours to bring him some food. He was very scared and that he might have another stroke as he no longer had the financial resources to cope with an expensive medical bill.

Eventually he decided that the only thing for him to do would be to return to the UK and rely on the National Health Service. His friends booked a flight to the UK and someone organised accommodation for him back in Manchester. The stress of leaving his friends and home in Chiang Mai and returning to a country he had not seen for over 20 years proved too much for poor old Tom. Shortly after arriving he had another stroke and was taken into permanent care, paid for by the government since he had no savings left. It was not much of a life but he managed to stick it out for 10 years before finally passing away at the age of 93.

Dick was a very different kettle of fish. He had been married but his two wives had divorced him as he was a rather careless a sort of individual. He enjoyed life in Chiang Mai; he usually had a Thai girlfriend to look after him, the beer was cheap and the weather OK. He had retired in Chiang Mai shortly before his 60th birthday having been made redundant from his company in Australia. He celebrated his good fortune on his 70th birthday, perhaps a little too much. Sadly, on the way home he was involved in an accident, was seriously injured, and could not move from the neck down. He was quickly repatriated to the Australia where he has been living ever since, courtesy of the Health Service.

Harry had spent so long in Chiang Mai that he was known by everyone. He and his Thai wife met at university in France and shortly after they were married he moved to Chiang Mai to teach at university. He built himself a full life and was of considerable benefit to the local community. He gave of himself and was well respected by all who came in contact with him eventually he and his wife both retired after many years of good work. Of course, salaries being what they are in Thailand they had never managed to save very much or provide themselves with much of a pension but, they were okay that is, until his wife became seriously ill. After six months of going in and out of hospital for more and more operations on her cancer sadly, she eventually died. Poor old Harry was left destitute. He had very little to live on and the strain off the past year had taken a psychological toll on him. He could no longer be left alone. He was not eating properly, he was drinking too much, and he showed the first signs of mental instability and illness. His friends decided to send him back to France where he could be looked after by the Country’s Health Service.

Now before you feel terribly sad about these people and their problems I should tell you that they are fictitious. Nevertheless they are typical of many real cases. People are being repatriated back to the EU, Canada and Australia every week in order that they can be looked after by the government as they do not have the resources to look after themselves here.

When they are returned to their country of origin most of them are not in a condition to be able to make new friends easily. They end up alone and costing their governments a great deal of money. Of course, they are entitled to be supported in this way. The real problem is the fact that all these people have lived in Chiang Mai for much of their lives and their friends are here, not back home. They would prefer to stay. Surely there is a better way?

Perhaps there is a solution that can provide such people with a very high standard of care, in the community they love, and at the same time, cost the health services less money. The solution would seem to be a nursing home for severely and terminally ill foreign residents in Chiang Mai. The relevant health services could contribute to the cost of their nationals’ care.

There are a number of people who feel that setting up such a home would be of benefit to these people and also to the community in Chiang Mai. I would be interested to hear what you think. Emails to [email protected]

Day Tripper: Elephant conservation center Lampang

By Khun Chok

Approx 1 hour drive from Chiang mai, The Elephant conservation center is spread over several hectares in the mountains between Chiang mai and Lampang. If you’re reasonably fit you can walk around the park or as many do, catch a shuttle bus. You can watch the Elephants bathing in the morning, and then watch a demonstration of skills taught to the Elephants for use in farming and construction.

They’re also great artists, their artworks are available for purchase. There is a nursery area, the baby elephants are so cute. Two Elephant hospitals are in the grounds as well. Elephant rides are available and plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal and feed the elephants.

There are several gift/souvenir shops and places to eat. The center also offers courses for people to learn how to live and care for an elephant.

Its a great place and I think just being around such large beasts is a very special experience, so get out there , spend your money , they are doing a great job for the future and welfare of the Thai elephants.

A great place for the family.

Tips from the Podology Center: by Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon


One of the most common skin diseases is warts. Many times it is mistaken as a corn. But there is difference: a wart is a virus infection and the corn is nothing else than thick skin which can be formed by pressure of the shoes or rubbing from the outside and bone pressure from the inside or even by deformation of the foot or toe.

The virus infection is mostly caused by a wound at the foot and there the wart can be formed. It is easy to get warts at the swimming pool or running without shoes, at the sauna or walking on carpets in hotels.

Most of the time the wart has a block spot which is nothing more than burst blood vessels. A wart can be treated in many different ways. One of the most appropriate methods is to paste ‘duo film’ (in the drugstores available) on it. The acid goes into the skin and can reach the root of the wart. As soon as the root is destroyed the wart is destroyed. Of course there is no guarantee that this helps. Everybody should realize that a wart is a benign form of cancer. This doesn’t necessary means anything but warts can also become worse.

Many kinds of warts are very resistant. Then one needs a treatment with laser, fluid nitrogenoxyd and/or an operation to remove the root of the wart.

If you have a wart you could try out some home remedies like vinegar, tea tree oil, a mixture of lemon juice, vinegar, onion juice, and urine, or creams based on urine.

In any case it is recommended to consult a doctor or a podologist since it takes a specialist to determine which of one of the seven kinds of warts it could be and then determine the appropriate treatment.

Dirk Weeber-Arayatumsopon works at the Podology Center in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and treats all kinds of feet problems. Info at:


By Dr. Ron Perrin

This month I am going to briefly explore reactive depression and how it impact on our lives at different stages.

Adjustment Disorder, with depressed mood, also called a “reactive depression.” The diagnosis of an adjustment disorder implies that specific psychological symptoms have developed in response to a specific and identifiable psychosocial stressor. If the symptom picture suggests that the person meets the diagnostic criteria for another psychological disorder, than this diagnosis is not used. For example, if a person experiences a trauma, and develops the symptoms of a major depression, then the diagnosis of adjustment disorder is not used, even though the depression is used to categorize mild to moderate depression, following a stressful event.

Depression often co-exists with other illnesses. Such illnesses may precede the depression, cause it, and/or be a consequence of it. It is likely that the mechanics behind the intersection of depression and other illnesses differ for every person and situation. Regardless, these other co-occurring illnesses need to be diagnosed and treated.

Anxiety disorders, such as post - traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorders, panic disorders, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorders, often accompany depression. People experiencing PTSD especially after a person experiences a terrifying event or ordeal, such as a violent assault, a natural disaster, an accident, terrorism or military combat.

People with PTSD often re-live that traumatic event in flashbacks, memories or nightmares. Other symptoms include irritability, anger outbursts, intense guilt and avoidance of thinking or talking about the traumatic ordeal.

Alcohol and other substance abuse or dependence may also co-occur with depression. In fact, research has indicated that the co-existence of mood disorders and substance abuse is pervasive worldwide.

Depression also often co-exists with other serious medical illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, hiv/aids, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Studies have shown that people who have depression in addition to another serious medical illness tend to have more severe symptoms of both depression and medical illness.

Depression is more common in women than with men. Biological, life cycle, hormonal and psychosocial factor unique to women may be linked to women’s higher depression rate. Researchers have shown that hormones directly affect brain chemistry that controls emotions and mood. For example, women are particularly vulnerable to depression after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes, along with new responsibility of caring for a newborn, can be overwhelming. Many new mothers experience a brief episode of the “baby blues,” but some will develop postnatal depression, a much more serious condition that requires active treatment and emotional support for the new mother. Some studies suggest that women who experience postnatal depression often have had prior depression episodes.

Some women may also be susceptible to a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Sometimes called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a condition resulting from the hormonal changes that typically occur around ovulation and before menstruation begins. During the transition into menopause, some women experience an increased risk for depression. Scientists are exploring how the cyclical rise and fall of estrogen and other hormones may affect the brain chemistry that is associated with depressive illness.

Finally, many women face the additional stresses of work and home responsibilities, caring for children and aging parents, abuse, poverty, and relationship strains. It remain unclear why some women faced with enormous challenges develop depression, while others with similar challenges do not. Confidential Appoiontments. Dr. Ron Perrin. Psychology – Psychotherapy. 085 – 6187245.