The Doctor's Consultation: by Dr. Iain Corness
Dengue Fever – once more!
Aedes aegypti, the mosquito which carries the Dengue virus
is here again. With a vengeance.
At the time of writing this column, there are five
westerners in my hospital with Dengue Fever. This is not an isolated group
that caught it from drinking out of damp glasses in the same bar. The actual
figures for Thailand are 70 deaths and over 50,000 cases as of the end of
August, an increase of 93.8 percent. Surin in the North East has reported
2,300 cases alone. Last year, there were 180 cases in Northern Thailand and
10 fatalities. That’s more than died from the dreaded SARS epidemic that had
people cringing in their homes afraid to go out without a gas mask.
So, despite my previous pleas, (and those of the Public
Health Department), Dengue Fever and its potentially fatal variant, Dengue
Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) is still with us. The latest figures have now
prompted me to repeat my advice on this subject. If you remember reading
about it before, I apologize, but the subject matter is very important. This
is an important ailment, that can be avoided.
However, first you should understand a little more about
Dengue. It was first described in 1780 by a Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia (so
it didn’t start here) when the name Break Bone Fever was applied, with the
symptoms of pain in the bones and rise in temperature. The name “Dengue”
came in 1828 during an epidemic in Cuba. The new name was a Spanish attempt
at a Swahili phrase “ki denga pepo” which describes a sudden cramping
seizure caused by an evil spirit! Let me assure you that the local brand of
Dengue Fever owes nothing to spirits, evil, bottled or otherwise.
Like Malaria, the virus is carried by mosquitoes, this
time by one called Aedes aegypti. The virus itself is related to Japanese
encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis and Yellow fever, and there are
four “serotypes” or subgroups of it.
Simple Dengue (if you can call it that) has an incubation
period of around four to seven days and then the full blown symptoms of high
fever and headache begin. The headache is usually behind the eyes and is
made worse by eye movement. From there the pains progress to the limbs with
acute muscle pains, which gave it the old name “Break Bone Fever”.
Interestingly, some patients complain of a metallic taste in the mouth. (Please
don’t ask - I have no idea why!)
On the other hand, Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) can
certainly be fatal! It appears that Serotype 2 may be the culprit here, but
does not usually produce DHF unless you have been previously bitten by types
1, 3 or 4. In addition to the symptoms of Classical Dengue the skin begins
to bruise very easily as the blood hemorrhages into the skin. Children are
also more susceptible to this than adults. This also becomes much more of an
emergency and is best treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of your
With our ability to treat the viral ailments being very
limited, the defense against the Dengue virus lies in the preventive
measures. Get rid of any free-standing water within 200 meters of your home,
as this is the ideal breeding ground for the mosquito. The other precautions
are to wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts, especially at sun up and
sun down, when the mosquito is at its most ravenous. The other factor to
remember is “D” for Dengue and “D” for DEET. DEET is the magic ingredient in
mosquito repellents, so when you go to buy some, check the label – if it has
DEET, then get it. And then remember to use it!
Macha is easily overlooked sitting out of sight in her little bed
along the back wall of the shelter. Although a little shy she is
incredibly sweet and affectionate. A small to medium sized dog, 3-4
years old, healthy and sterilised, she is the perfect addition to
any home with or without children but preferably not very dominant
dogs…take the time to seek her out and she’ll reward you in spades!
If you think you can offer Macha a place in your heart forever…Contact
the shelter English (08 47 52 52 55) or Thai language (08 69 13 87
01) email: [email protected] to make an appointment to meet
her or visit www.carefordogs.org for more info.
Heart to Heart
As usual you always seem to give good advice to some
of our friends who have fallen by the wayside, and they look to you to
be their saviour, this week it is George’s turn to give you his problem
concerning his up and coming marriage, your reply is, as usual,
excellent and to the point, but after having the same problem in the
past, I think I may be able to offer some further advice to this
forsaken gentleman, if I may be so bold, George, as Hillary has
explained to you, a village marriage is not legal, it is, very simply, a
trap to relieve you of your cash, forget about dowries for a start, what
are you buying?, a cow, or a buffalo, when I was told that a dowry is
traditional in Thailand, I said no chance, forget it, I was married to a
Thai girl a couple of years ago, I never went to the village, I went to
Bangkok and was married legally, I had a good party with all my friends
and the full cost to me for everything was, 30,000 baht, after knowing
this girl for only one year George, my advice to you is to run while you
still have some money in your bank account, it seems to me that this
girl will leave you with nothing, although you are not the first and you
will certainly not be the last, LEAVE TOWN GEORGE.
Dear Experienced Pensioner,
Wow! What a sentence! 248 words without a full stop - you leave me
breathless! However, thank you for backing up my advice to George, I
also felt he was being led up the matrimonial path by the proverbial
carrot. “Experience” is always the best teacher (and you sound as if you
have several buckets of it).
Hello again, been reading you since I can’t remember. Whether I was here
or in the U.S. All day with the rain I contemplated this writing. In the
past you have published two of my writings one 6-11-10, the other
7-15-10 I believe. In my 30 yrs of coming to Thailand, the advice you
offer, most of it I had to learn the hard way, because it was before the
time of Mail. Of course the farangs that write you are seeking
your advice. While you are most knowledgeable, it’s one-sided. It’s
always from the Thai female psyche. Sometimes I feel these farang need a
slap in the back of head from one who has been there, one of their own.
While you always offer a gentle solution to their problems, I feel some
just have a hard heads. I know it’s immaterial whether or not they take
the advice you offer, it’s up to them. But when it comes to the
particularly stupid, I’d like to be of assistance if there is some way I
could be of aid in these hard core cases please contact me.
I’m still new at this being retired, and have yet to
find a way to occupy my time, sure that will change in the future.
Because from what I read in your column it’s always the newbie or nearly
newbies who get themselves in emotional / financial trouble. Us old
timers are pretty well set, if we don’t know by now there is no helping
us, nor are we seeking help. But not to invade on your turf - if I could
be of any assistance please contact me.
Les (and Lawan)
Dear Les (and Lawan),
Aren’t you the kindest chap, with an offer of being Hillary’s little
helper. It is nice to know there are settled “old timers” as you called
yourself, ready, willing and able to step in at a moment’s notice.
However, Petal, I think the readers out there are looking for the Thai
female psyche, as they don’t understand what their long term partner of
two days is thinking. I would also be somewhat embarrassed if you went
out on some sort of vigilante exercise, slapping my correspondents
around the head as you suggested. I don’t think the editor would like
Then there is another problem, and it’s not your
salary as Hillary’s assistant, because there isn’t any, it’s where are
we going to put you? The editorial desk is not very large, and just fits
into my attic with me. If I have a good meal at lunchtime, I can’t get
in until after three in the afternoon! In the days when we used to get
real paper letters I had to open the envelopes outside as there wasn’t
enough room to swing the proverbial cat. Not that I have anything
against cats, you must know.
Unfortunately, I can see so many problems, apart
from the fact that Lawan might get jealous of your snuggling up to me on
one of these rainy afternoons. So many problems and so few ways around
it all. I think it is best if we just leave things as they are, but if I
find someone needing a bit of head-slapping, I’ll call you.
by Harry Flashman
Don’t get your hopes up. This is not some seedy expose of past
holiday romances. This is an article on how to get better
photographic results from your holiday.
In all the flurry of activity when packing for the
overseas trip, it is easy to forget to pack a camera (or two if you are
a real enthusiast). However, everyone wants a photographic record of the
trip, the event, the new experiences. After all, you saved for 11 months
for this, don’t let it just become a casual conversation on your return!
Now before you add “Pack Camera” to the To Do list,
there’s a little bit of photographic preparation to be done too. The
first, and should be most obvious, is just to make sure the camera
works. If you haven’t used the camera for some time, buy new batteries
for it and check the memory card before you go away. There’s nothing
worse than finding out that the camera had a problem after you get back!
You should take a few shots and look at them critically to make sure it
is really working properly.
Now, no matter where you go these days, someone has
been there before you. And they’ve written a guide book about it too, so
your next move is to actually plan some shots before you even leave
home. Research your destination properly and you should know what is
likely to be a significant place, monument, castle, lake, waterfall,
etc., in the area you will be visiting. When you read the Lonely Planet
Guide or whatever, use a highlighter pen to remind you of photo
Thinking about and anticipating “how” you should take
any landmark will produce much better results when you finally arrive to
take the picture. You will not be so over-awed that you just stand there
and go “click”. You will be ready to try to show this segment of your
trip with some photographic flair. It works, believe me!
It is always tempting to take photographs from the
plane. There is one classic shot you should always attempt on every
trip. That is the aerial. Shooting out of plane windows is not really
all that difficult with today’s cameras, but there are a couple of
catches. Firstly, pick a porthole where you can see a little of the
engine intake in the shot. Adds drama and shows how you got up there!
Shoot from the side of the plane opposite from the sun. This way you
won’t see the scratches on the plane window. Use a wide-angle lens if
you’ve got one, set the camera on auto and get as close to the window as
possible, but not touching it (otherwise you get vibrations coming
through to give you fuzzy photos).
Shooting the locals. Your research of the places you
are going to will soon tell you if there are interesting “locals” which
would make good photographs (such as this one pictured here). Priests,
tribes folk, indigenous people, policemen in uniform and the like all
make for good shots and gives the “atmosphere” of your holiday. It’s OK
to shoot when they are unaware of your presence, but if you want a
formal photograph, always ask. Just wave the camera and smile if you
can’t speak the local lingo. It usually works. If not, wave money! That
If you are going to well known destination like
London, Paris, New York, then you will always be able to buy another
memory card over there, but if you are going to the Mongolian Steppes,
you may need to bring your own supplies. I also suggest that the digital
folk take along more than one spare memory card and download their
precious images back here, where you know that everything (should) work
correctly and not delete images unexpectedly.
Finally, you should think about how you are going to
present the results. It is always a huge temptation to bring out folders
of photos as soon as you get back. Wait! Sort them, keep the good, throw
away the bad. Show only your best shots and everyone will be amazed at
your superb photographs!
Money Matters: Paul Gambles
MBMG International Ltd.
Is everything as bad as some people say? Part 1
Let’s look at the facts:
- In Q1 the amount of money in America dropped from USD14.2
trillion to USD13.9 trillion which is a reduction of nearly ten percent.
- The M3 figures for the US have been going steadily downhill
for the last year or so.
- Assets held by institutional funds fell by nearly forty
percent which is the biggest fall ever.
- The UK Telegraph quoted Professor Tim Congdon, who is with
International Monetary Research as saying, “It’s frightening, the plunge in M3
has no precedent since the Great Depression. The dominant reason for this is
that regulators across the world are pressing banks to raise capital asset
ratios and to shrink their risk assets. This is why the US is not recovering
- The International Monetary Fund has warned that the Gross
Public Debt in America will reach 97% of GDP in 2011 and 110% by 2015.
- Larry Summers, the US President’s economic advisor, has
asked US Congress for another USD200 billion because what they have given
already is not enough.
- The US is almost 8,000,000 jobs short of normal employment.
- As shown by the S&P Case-Schiller Index, house prices in
America continue to fall (3.2% in Q1) and mortgage applications are lower now
than they have been for over thirteen years.
- The ECRI index of American economic activity has been on a
continuous downward slope since October last year.
- Deficit spending leaves America vulnerable to foreign
- America is hampered by almost zero interest rates.
- As Frederick Thayer of George Washington University has
pointed out, there have been six periods in American history of substantial debt
reduction, in each case followed by a depression: “From 1817 to 1821, the
national debt was reduced by 29 percent to $90 million, and our first major
depression began in 1819; From 1823 to 1836, the national debt was reduced by
99.7 percent to $38,000, and a major depression began in 1837; From 1852 to
1857, the national debt was reduced by 59 percent to $28.7 million and was
followed by a major depression in 1857; From 1867 to 1873, the national debt was
lowered by 27 percent to $2.2 billion, and a major depression began in 1873;
From 1880 to 1893, the national debt was reduced by 57 percent to $1 billion and
was followed by a major depression in 1893; From 1920 to 1930, the national debt
was reduced by 36 percent to $16.2 billion; our sixth major crisis - the Great
Depression - began in 1929.”
- The US fiscal policy is heading the world towards a double-dip
recession as it has failed.
- In 2010 the U.S. government is projected to issue almost as
much new debt as the rest of the governments of the world combined.
- It is being projected that the U.S. government will have a
budget deficit of approximately 1.6 trillion dollars in 2010.
- If you went out and spent one dollar every single second,
it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend a trillion dollars. In fact,
if you spent one million dollars every single day since the birth of Christ, you
still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.
- Total U.S. government debt is now up to 90 percent of gross
- Total credit market debt in the United States, including
government, corporate and personal debt, has reached 360 percent of GDP.
- U.S. corporate income tax receipts were down 55% (to $138
billion) for the year ending September 30th, 2009.
- There are now 8 counties in the state of California that
have unemployment rates of over 20 percent and in the area around Sacramento,
California there is one closed business for every six that are still open.
- In February, there were 5.5 unemployed Americans for every
- According to a Pew Research Center study, approximately 37%
of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have either been unemployed or
underemployed at some point during the recession.
- More than 40% of those employed in the United States are
now working in low-wage service jobs.
- According to one new survey, 24% of American workers say
that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
- Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in
2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008. Not only that, more
Americans filed for bankruptcy in March 2010 than during any month since U.S.
bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005.
- RealtyTrac has announced that foreclosure filings in the
U.S. established an all time record for the second consecutive year in 2009.
- According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings were reported
on 367,056 properties in March 2010, an increase of nearly 19 percent from
February, an increase of nearly 8 percent from March 2009 and the highest
monthly total since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in January 2005.
- In Pinellas and Pasco counties, which include St.
Petersburg, Florida and the suburbs to the north, there are 34,000 open
foreclosure cases. Ten years ago, there were only about 4,000.
- In California’s Central Valley, 1 out of every 16 homes is
in some phase of foreclosure.
- The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that
more than 10 percent of all U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least
one payment during the January to March time period. That was a record high and
up from 9.1 percent a year ago.
- U.S. banks repossessed nearly 258,000 homes nationwide in
the first quarter of 2010, a 35 percent jump from the first quarter of 2009.
- For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater
share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual
Americans put together.
- U.S. commercial property values are down approximately 40
percent since 2007 and currently 18 percent of all office space in the United
States is sitting vacant.
- Defaults on apartment building mortgages held by U.S. banks
climbed to a record 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2010. That was almost
twice the level of a year earlier.
- In 2009, U.S. banks posted their sharpest decline in
private lending since 1942.
- To make up for a projected 2010 budget shortfall of $280
million, Detroit issued $250 million of 20-year municipal notes in March. The
bond issuance followed on the heels of a warning from Detroit officials that if
its financial state didn’t improve, it could be forced to declare bankruptcy.
- The National League of Cities says that municipal
governments will probably come up between $56 billion and $83 billion short
between now and 2012.
- Two university professors recently calculated that the
combined unfunded pension liability for all 50 U.S. states is 3.2 trillion
- According to Economic Policy Journal.com, 32 U.S. states
have already run out of funds to make unemployment benefit payments and so the
federal government has been supplying these states with funds so that they can
make their payments to the unemployed.
- 39.68 million Americans are now on food stamps, which
represents a new all-time record. But things look like they are going to get
even worse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting that enrollment in
the food stamp program will exceed 43 million Americans in 2011.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced the worst May
it has seen since 1940.
- In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to
the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio
has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
- According to economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez,
two-thirds of income increases in the U.S. between 2002 and 2007 went to the
wealthiest 1% of all Americans and the bottom 40 percent of income earners in
the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s
- According to a new report based on U.S. Census Bureau data,
only 26 percent of American teens between the ages of 16 and 19 had jobs in late
2009 which represents a record low since statistics began to be kept back in
- During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans
that are at least three months past due in the United States increased for the
16th consecutive quarter.
- According to the Tax Foundation’s Microsimulation Model, to
erase the 2010 U.S. budget deficit, the U.S. Congress would have to multiply
each tax rate by 2.4. Thus, the 10 percent rate would be 24 percent, the 15
percent rate would be 36 percent, and the 35 percent rate would have to be 85
- The worrying fall in M3 may well lead to deflation. Paul
Ashworth of Capital economics backs this up, “Core inflation is already the
lowest since 1966, so we don’t have much margin for error here. Deflation
becomes a threat if it goes on long enough to become entrenched.”
- The Eurozone continues to worry people with people running
for cover everywhere. This created yields on ten year German Bunds to 2.56%
which is lower than in the Great Depression.
- According to the UK Telegraph, “Spreads over peripheral
European debt rose sharply again, jumping to 137 basis points for Italy, 157 for
Spain and 220 for Ireland.”
- The sovereign debt markets in Euroland are getting close to
where they were before when the previous stimulus package was released. If it
did not work then…
- Corporate bonds are suffering, with May showing the worst
amount of issuances this century. Research by Bloomberg shows that, in April,
volumes fell from USD183 billion to a paltry USD47 billion.
- Spain is causing a lot of worry. At the end of May, bank
shares fell by 6% in one day as people worried about the central bank seizing
- Spain has unsold property which is equal to four years
- BNP Paribas is worried that Spain may not be able to honour
its promise to help out with the Greece rescue package as if it did not then the
rest of Euroland may not be able to cope and then the whole ideal would fall
down the plughole.
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 Ghost Writer (2009)
clever and quite intelligent thriller, which won the Silver Bear for ‘Best
Director’ at the Berlin IFF in February, is probably the best film by Roman
Polanksi since he made Chinatown, decades ago. This may not be saying that
much considering the disasters along the way, such as Pirates, The Fearless
Vampire Killers, Bitter Moon and What? among others. Humour is certainly not
his dominant characteristic.
To be honest I have never been a great fan of his rather
shrill talent. Most of his darkly sinister films are clever but sterile and
lack humanity and certainly any vestige of wit. That he had a ghastly
childhood during the war years and a far from easy run since those years
does not make the films more palatable.
Even his stunning debut, Knife in the Water and its
British follow up, Repulsion reveal – brilliantly – what was to follow.
Other major directors who deal in painful psychological and social
‘problems’ – Haneke, Dumont, the Dardennes Brothers – show great compassion
in their work.
With his new movie he is on easier ground. It’s a modern
day political thriller, co-written by Robert Harris and the director from
Harris’s best selling novel. Seemingly there are considerable changes in the
screenplay from the book and some of the plotting is very fanciful but the
film chugs along entertainingly enough with enough menace and mystery to
keep one hooked.
The story concerns a young writer (Ewan McGregor) who
lands a highly paid job re-writing and ‘ghosting’ the memoirs of a former
British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan), following the mysterious death of
his former ghost. The journalist is whisked from London to the USA and the
steel and concrete home which the politician is using as a base for his
lecture and fund raising tour. The relentless wind, never ending rain and
wintry surroundings certainly create a bleak house atmosphere, made even
bleaker by the machinations of the politician (who is having an affair with
his secretary) and the feisty wife (Olivia Williams, who gives a wonderful
and intense performance) and is later revealed as one of the villains of the
The movie is quite densely plotted as the newcomer to
this strange m้nage tries to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of
his predecessor and discovers more than he bargained for, including nasty
revelations about the CIA. There are some droll lines along the way, a
couple more excellent performances from stalwarts such as Tom Wilkinson as a
silky and sinister member of the establishment and a lively cameo from the
94 year old Eli Wallach. Brosnan is excellently cast as a self centred
politician with some distinct similarities to Tony Blair. McGregor is, as
usual, rather bland.
The music is over insistent as though compensating for
the cool tone of the film and I guess many people might accuse the whole
thing of being rather old fashioned in its classic directorial style. But if
you fancy a good yarn and a little healthy cynicism about politics and big
business then this fits the bill. Sadly it never reached Chiang Mai in the
cinema after a run in Bangkok but it and other movies by Polanski (including
that debut!) are available from the DVD Film Shop at 289 Suthep Road.
Let's Go To The Movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Chiang Mai
Resident Evil: Afterlife: UK/
Germany/ US, Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – The series continues. Terrible
reviews, but the series has always been a big hit in Thailand; they must
have found the formula that works here. This time, in a world ravaged by a
virus infection turning its victims into the Undead (read: zombies),
Alice (Milla Jovovich), continues on her journey to find survivors and lead
them to safety. Her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation reaches new
heights as a new lead takes them to Los Angeles; when they arrive they find
the city overrun by thousands of the Undead. Rated R in the US for sequences
of strong violence and language. Generally negative reviews. Shown in both
3D and 2D versions at Airport Plaza (and the 3D version is for a change real
3D); in 2D and Thai-dubbed only at Vista.
In regards to the 3D process used, I want to emphasize that
this is real 3D, in fact using Pace Fusion 3-D cameras, the same cameras
James Cameron created with Vince Pace for a number of Cameron’s
documentaries, as well as his feature Avatar. Cameron waited ten
years until the 3D technology caught up with the vision he had for Avatar,
and he was deeply involved in the invention and development of the
technology. His systems and cameras remain at the cutting edge of 3D
technology. Now, why they would want to use all this marvelous technology
for a zombie flic is another question entirely. But I want to do my bit to
clear up the confusion as to what kind of 3D is actually being used under
the generic and often misleading label of “3D” by places like Major
Cineplex. They charge the same price for genuine 3D like this film as for
rip-off cheapie post-production 3D, which takes a 2D film and adds some 3D
feel to it. And they never let on. Shame, shame.
Eternity / Chua Fah Din Sa Lai: Thai, Drama/ Romance –
One of the most interesting Thai movies to come along in some time. Based on
a revered and classic Thai novel of 1943, the film depicts a forbidden love
story in which adulterous lovers are physically chained together for all
eternity. It’s also gotten some controversy because of lots of nudity of the
couple, perhaps especially the many views of Ananda’s rear end. But for me,
I’m mostly interested in what the director will do. His name is ML
Pandevanop Devakul, better known as Mom Noi, and he’s an interesting guy.
He’s an acting teacher, arguably the best acting teacher in Thailand, the
mentor of Ananda Everingham among others. He comes from a classical
theatrical background. As a director he has presented some of the most
severe examples of Western drama in Thai adaptations over the years,
including Greek drama, Shakespeare, Chekhov, and modern American drama.
Starring Ananda Everingham. Rated 18+ in Thailand.
From Pakse with Love / Sabaidee 2: Thai, Comedy/
Romance – A follow-up sweet picture postcard from Laos following the first
sweet picture postcard from Laos in this planned trilogy, 2008’s Sabaidee
Luang Prabang. That movie starred Ananda Everingham, and was the first
feature film made in Laos in 20 years. This one stars Ray Macdonald and
Laotian beauty queen Khamly Philavong, reprising her role from the first
film as a charming tour guide.
Hello Stranger / Kuan Muen Ho: Thai, Comedy/ Romance –
Riding the local wave of fascination in all things Korean (but especially
the boy-band, pop-star craze), comes another rom-com about Thais in that
country of wonder that seems to breed only cute muppets. A real hit in
Thailand, it’s been the top film by a considerable margin since August 19.
The Expendables: US, Action/ Adventure/ Thriller –
Directed by Sylvester Stallone and starring him and a bunch of his old
action buddies – Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, and
even token appearances by Bruce Willis and California governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger. A team of mercenaries head to South America on a mission to
overthrow a dictator. Rated R in the US for strong action and bloody
violence throughout, and for some language; 18+ in Thailand. Mixed or
average reviews. English at Airport Plaza, Thai dubbed at Vista.
Scheduled for Sep 23
Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps:
US, Drama – Oliver Stone directs Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Frank
Langella, Susan Sarandon, Charlie Sheen, and Eli Wallach in this scathing
follow-up to the acclaimed 1987 film – 23 years later. Here the disgraced
Wall Street corporate raider imprisoned in the first movie is released, and
as the global economy teeters on the brink of disaster he partners with a
young Wall Street trader on a two-part mission: To alert the financial
community to the coming doom, and to find out who was responsible for the
death of the young trader’s mentor. Early reviews: Generally favorable.
Bridge in Paradise :
by Neil Robinson
This interesting deal comes from a Bridge Club of Chiang Mai
coaching session. South dealt and East-West were vulnerable. The question is
how to bid it.
The bidding that
actually occurred at the session is shown below. You may well think that is
perfectly reasonable bidding and ask why the deal is of any interest. One
reason is that N-S can make a five diamond game, but stopped at only the
three level. West will probably lead the jack of hearts, partner’s bid suit.
Declarer wins this and pulls one round of trumps, noting the fall of the
queen. This indicates a 4-1 split and means that West has a natural trump
trick. If West ruffs therefore this will cost declarer nothing, because any
ruff will be at the expense at a natural trick. Consequently, declarer
switches to clubs so as to be able to ruff a club on board if necessary.
When West wins the ace of clubs he cannot afford to lead trumps, because
this gives up the natural trick. He will probably lead a spade which
declarer ruffs. Declarer continues playing on clubs, ruffing the fourth
round on board, and now pulls two more rounds of trumps and plays out high
hearts. In total the defence can score no more than one trump and the ace of
South West North East
1D P 1S 2H
3C P 3D All pass
Declarer’s game is not
the only one that can be made. East-West can make four spades, played by
East, against any likely defence. South, being void in spades, is unable to
lead a trump to cut down on ruffing on board and will probably lead a high
heart or club. The third round of hearts will be ruffed on board and the
defence will likely take only two hearts and a diamond.
So here is a deal
where both sides can make game, but not bid them! I cannot see any
reasonable way for North-South to bid their five diamond game and I
certainly cannot see how East-West can find their four spade game,
particularly after North bids spades. So how would you bid the deal in such
a way as to find the available games?
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
Oh internet, internet,
wherefor art thou?
My internet has been spotty for weeks. Up
and down, off and on, slow then fast. My neighbors have the same complaint.
I live in the middle of town, so you’d think that it would be better, but
apparently not. Its starting to make me a little crazy, I have to admit.
Having enjoyed quite good internet when it was installed in April, I had
been lulled into a false sense of complacency that I had gotten lucky.
A recent request of Mail readers as to whats up with
their internet revealed that it seems to depend on where you live as to
how good it is.
TOT has a good reputation on the outskirts of the
City, while in my neighborhood, it has a very bad reputation. But, given
the way the internet has been with 3BB lately, perhaps that isn’t saying
much. Several people noted that their internet was worse when it rained,
which suggests that the line quality is poor and that the connections
need fixing. Others noted that the speed picked up when evening rolled
around which could be a result of businesses going off line for the day.
These stories tell me a few pertinent things. Firstly,
that the lines are probably old and in need of replacement and secondly,
that they have signed up more new customers without increasing capacity.
Not a very good business practice if you want to keep your customers.
But, maybe they figure there are only a few games in town, they will be
bound to keep some people at least. I don’t know. All I do know is my
internet is now very bad.
But everyone complained about the lack of service and
information when they do have problems. From “its your router”, to “its
your computer” , so why is it that if I do nothing it eventually comes
back at the same time as if I turn off my router?And then there is the
one I hear all the time, “its everywhere in Chiang Mai”. Seriously?
If this is the case, then something needs to be done
before Chiang Mai can position itself a serious contender for the hub of
the creative economy in Thailand. And I understand that the Prime
Minister is putting forth Chiang Mai as a possible option for the next
World Expo. A terrific idea, in my opinion, but one that needs to see
the infrastructure improved before it becomes feasible.
How does your garden grow?:
By Eric Danell,Dokmai Garden
Some plants which are not suitable in the Chiang Mai valley
Gardeners like challenges. Somebody told me it is
impossible to grow the Japanese Wisteria floribunda in my hometown Uppsala,
Sweden (59th latitude), so of course I had to try! I selected a south facing
corner and covered my precious vines and roots with 50 cm of bracken before
winter, and wrapped them with cloth. It worked, but the effort was time
consuming. Here in Chiang Mai I planted Wisteria sinensis. It survives, but
it does not grow beacuse it lacks a cold period. It grows nicely at nearby
Doi Ang Khan (1500 m) which is perfect for temperate plants. To spare you
the trouble and money, or to challenge your skills, here is a list of
additional temperate species which we have tried at Dokmai Garden (350 m)
without success: wasabi (Wasabia japonica), ginseng (Panax ginseng – ’som’),
laurel (Laurus nobilis – bai krawan), French lavender (Lavandula dentata),
empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa), most tulips (Tulipa spp), tea (Camellia
sinensis – cha. It only survives in shade, but does not thrive), cherry (Prunus
spp. It grows nicely, but no flowers due to lack of cold) and grape vine (Vitis
vinifera – ’a ngun’. Constant spraying with insecticides may do the trick,
but that is not interesting to us). However, to our great surprise, these
work: ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), olive (Olea europaea - makok), rosemary (Rosmarinus
officinalis), thyme (Thymus vulgaris – bai gawan), Mediterranean fig (Ficus
carica – ma duea farang) and myrtle (Myrtus communis – namman khiao). You
need to protect the latter group of plants from the heavy rains during the
rainy season, and irrigate during the cool season. Pots or well drained
elevated flower beds are suitable. Roses and Clematis thrive at high
elevation above the pine belt, at least 1200 meters. At this elevation you
can find indigenous and famous ornamentals like the Helena rose (Rosa
helenae – sri chantra) and Clematis smilacifolia (Phuang kaeo kudan). Roses
barely survive in the valley, and only if you spray like mad. Clematis
demands a shady and well irrigated position. www.dokmaigarden.co.th.
Life in Chiang Mai:
By Mark Whitman
Where, Oh Where, Have All The Farangs Gone?
By Colin Jarvis
I am sitting in one of my favourite restaurants in Chiang
Mai having just been to Baan Tawai, the woodcarving centre near Hang Dong.
Over the past year I have noticed that many of the retailers in Baan Tawai
have closed down. This is hardly surprising, the place used to be full of
tourists from all over the world but today I saw only four customers and a
small group of schoolchildren.
The restaurant in which I am sitting is one of four shop
house restaurants side by side near the Tha Phae gate. I am the only
customer in any of the restaurants this lunchtime yet last year these
restaurants were full.
Last week I was talking to Mr Frank, the tailor. He was
telling me that his turnover this year is about 20% of last year. A friend
of mine who has a fleet of silver minibuses which transport tourists are
operating at a 10% capacity rather than their normal 70%. Where, oh where,
have all the farangs gone?
Western tourists are worried about their future.
Unemployment is high and people are worried about losing their jobs. The
value of their houses has fallen and they feel far less wealthy than they
did a while ago. They are tending to save rather than spend. At the same
time most western currencies have fallen by around 30% against the baht in
the last 18 months. This means that even if Westerners would like to come to
Thailand the holiday will cost them considerably more than it did two years
ago. So Western holidaymakers are tending to take their vacations locally or
Those that can afford to travel long distances for their
holidays were advised by their governments, earlier this year, not to travel
to Thailand. There is no doubt that many tourists will stay away from this
country as they are worried about potential disruption caused by the red or
Isn’t this great! No loud-mouth drunken youths falling
over themselves at the Tha Phae gate. One million fewer people to hinder us
as we shop at Airport Plaza. Peace and quiet in which to view the sights and
quiet restaurants with cheaper prices.
But is it really good? Actually, no it isn’t. Thousands
of businesses that rely on tourism are hanging on by the skin of their
teeth. The large hotels are running at about 10% occupancy. If the tourism
disappears then so will the transport companies, hotels, shops and many
other businesses that we like and enjoy as residents. We should remember
that the number of tourists normally visiting Chiang Mai in one year is two
thirds the number of people who live in Chiang Mai. They contribute a great
deal to the local economy.
For local businesses to continue to provide the range of
services they currently do it is absolutely vital that the tourists return
If the farangs are unlikely to come back quickly who else
can be encouraged to fill the gap? The answer would seem to be tourists from
other Asian countries. Such countries do not seem to have been affected by
the global financial crisis as much as Western countries. Their exchange
rates have remained, pretty much, where they were in relation to the Thai
baht and of course, travelling from Asia, is far cheaper than coming from
Europe or North America.
However, Asian tourists tend to come for different
reasons than their farang counterparts. Many farangs simply want to lie on a
beach and get brown whereas Asian holidaymakers, like the Thais, wish to
stay as light a colour as possible. They tend to come for specific reasons
such as medical tourism, golf, shopping, food and sightseeing. These they
can find in abundance in Chiang Mai. These days there seem to be almost as
many spas as temples. There are many excellent hotels that can pamper their
Asian guests superbly. Shopping is actually better than in Bangkok as prices
are cheaper, all the big stores are here, and handicrafts, artworks, tailor-made
There have been a number of promotions recently run by
the Tourist Authority of Thailand, other government departments and trade
associations and more are in the pipeline. Perhaps, more important, recently
about 20 ambassadors were invited to visit Chiang Mai in order to show them
that the city is a very safe and peaceful place to visit and that they
should encourage their home governments to be more positive and to remove
any negative travel advice is that many still be current.
Amongst the businesses that rely on tourism there does
seem to be some confidence that the Christmas and New Year peak period will
see an increase in tourism. Providing there is no great catastrophe or
political unease they may well be right. Let us hope so for the sake of the
businesses, ourselves and the tourists who come to enjoy our fair city.
Let’s welcome all tourists to our city and hope the farang comeback soon.
Day Tripper: Lets not forget Doi Inthanon
By Heather Allen
The unforgettable Doi Inthanon has not yet been covered
by my fellow daytrippers. And while it has been some time since I have been
there, I imagine its just as beautiful now after the rains as it is in other
drier times of the year. Just don’t forget the mosquito repellent!
Inthanon is Thailand’s highest mountain peak, and while it does not compare
in height to some of the truly high mountains at 2,565 meters (or 8,415 feet)
it certainly does compare in beauty. Originally named Doi Luang, it was
renamed by King Inthawichayanon to Doi Inthanon. Deeply concerned with
forest conservation, he ordered that upon his death his remains be placed
there and the mountain renamed. His daughter, who became Queen Consort for
HM King Rama did so when he died in 1897.
Declared a National Park in 1972, you can visit not only
the peak (worth a visit for the view alone), but the multitude of waterfalls
(beautiful this time of year), the varied and wonderful plant life,
rhododendron species indiginous to Doi Inthanon alone, wildlife, and birds.
The park supports the largest diversity of bird species in Thailand.. Hike
or just sit and look.
Additionally there are Hmong and Karen villagers living
in the park, where you can purchase handicrafts as well. Accomodation is
available there or at Park Headquarters.
Getting there: Highway 108 west to Chomthong for 57 km.
Turn right on 1009, follow the Chomthong-Doi Inthanon Road for 31 km and you
arrive at the entrance. Travel time is about 90 minutes, give or take.