Vol. IX No. 36 - Saturday
October 16 - Sunday October 31, 2010



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Updated by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Columns
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

MAIL OPINION

How does your garden grow?

Life in Chiang Mai

Day Tripper

Staying happy in Paradise - theCounseling Corner

BIRWATCHING TALES

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

This is Pinktober

We are in “Pinktober”, a breast cancer awareness program charity drive to assist the poor under the care of the Thanyarak Foundation (under the patronage of the late Princess Mother Sri Nagarindra). Unfortunately, we are still looking for a cure for many cancers, but the research is continuing.

In the meantime, early detection does give the cancer sufferer a much better survival rate than otherwise. In the UK they have actually been studying early detection with the National Cancer Director Professor Mike Richards indicating that work is well underway to catch more cancer cases earlier and improve the longer term treatment for cancer survivors.

Professor Richards said, “Cancer treatment in Britain has improved vastly in recent years and we are now beginning to see the impact on our survival rates. Recent cancer mortality figures for under 75’s show that nearly 9000 lives will have been saved in 2007 compared with 1996 and we are on course to meet our target of a reduction of at least 20 percent in cancer death rates by 2010.”

There is conflicting evidence as to the efficacy of Breast Self Examination (BSE), but if it provides a chance of early detection, then as far as I am concerned, it is worth it. The process of looking is called breast screening, but is still a subject that seems to be controversial, though honestly, I do not know why. The sensationalist press feeds on fear, and by instilling fear into women about breast cancer will always sell a few more papers. It is not so long ago that one of the international news magazines had a front cover story on breast cancer screening, with the inference being that it was probably all a waste of time. Despite mammograms and suchlike, there were cases that escaped detection until it was too late and other such negative predictions. Was it all then a waste of resources and money?

Ladies, let me assure you that it is none of those. Unfortunately, the cancer detection story is one that suffers from a problem which can be associated with an inexact science. Since we can put men on the moon, clone sheep (and even rabbits in Chonburi, apparently) and other incredible facts, we should then be able to diagnose human conditions with pin-point accuracy. Unfortunately wrong! We’re getting better at it, but we’re not there yet.

Diagnosis and detection are “real time” arts, not sciences, even though we would like them to be. Sure, we use “science” as a tool, but that is all it is. A tool to help us see the problem. Just like we can use a telescope to see things at a distance - even if we can’t see the object, that doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t there.

There has been a bit of that thinking with Mammograms of late. A lady has three clear annual Mammograms and then finds she has advanced breast cancer during year number four. Was the testing useless?

Again I ask you to look at the “real time” situation. So today cancer was found. When did it “start” to grow? This week, this month, this year? The answer depends upon the type of the cancer. Some fast growing cancers would be impossible to pick up, even if the person had monthly mammograms. The slow growing variety can be picked up years ahead. Unfortunately mammography cannot be a 100 percent indicator - we are not that good - yet. But it is still one of the best diagnostic procedures we have. And it is better than nothing.

Likewise, Breast Self Examination (BSE) has its detractors as well as its proponents. Sure, a lot depends upon how well the woman carries out this self testing, but again, surely it is better to look than to carry on in blissful ignorance?

Breast cancer is like all cancers - the sooner you find it, the sooner you can deal with it and the earlier treatment is administered, the better the outcome. Studies from the American National Cancer Institute show that 96 percent of women whose breast cancer is detected early are still alive five or more years after treatment. That’s not all doom and gloom, is it?

 

Meet Nik

My name is Nik but some folks call me Ginger because I have a pretty ginger coat and warm, bright eyes. I am a small dog aged about 2 and am very healthy, fully vaccinated and sterilised. I would be the perfect addition to any home and though I am a little shy around new people would settle in in no time! Come and meet me at the shelter and we can fall in love!

Interested? Contact the shelter English (08 47 52 52 55) or Thai language (08 69 13 87 01) to make an appointment to meet her.


Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Hello Hillary,

In reply to Mona from Manchester. Her husband brought a bucket of sand to the beach. She traveled hours and hours on a plane to get here. If you don’t like it then go back to somewhere you do like things. Why on earth people fly halfway around the world, say it’s disgusting and try to be busy-bodies and make the new country conform to them is beyond me. She’s not complaining about total negligence or even total stupidity. She’s complaining about THE WAY THINGS ARE here. If she doesn’t like it then that airplane will take her home just as fast as it got her here.
PBK

Dear PBK,
What an interesting set of initials, my Petal. What do they stand for I wonder? However, Mona is still allowed to air her opinion (no matter how right or wrong it is), just as you have been allowed to air yours. Remember, PBK, that most foreigners do complain about the way things are here… it doesn’t suit everyone, you are correct, but rather than just tell Mona to catch the next plane out, how about advising her on some of the other attractions of Thailand? There is more than just sand here, as we all know.

Dear Hillary,
I will admit I’m what you call a “balloon chaser”, but there are many reasons for this. You would have read the readers letters to your newspaper and seen all the discontented British pensioners there are. Frozen benefits and the pound sterling going down like a lead balloon. We are doing it tough, Hillary. You would go chasing free roast pig too, when you’ve really got to count the pennies. It probably doesn’t mean much to you, being a working woman, but don’t you forget we are only pensioners.
Bob the Balloon Chaser

Dear Bob the Balloon Chaser,
I may as well be a pensioner, Bob my Petal, as I can assure you that you don’t get much sitting in an attic reading heart-rending letters, yours included. I’m afraid there’s nothing much I can do for you, as your financial predicament is a situation that you have chosen. You can always go back to the UK, where your pension will be unfrozen, but then, you will be frozen. Your choice, Bob. Your choice.

Dear Hillary,
There are so many lovely girls in Thailand, how come all the people who write in to you seem to have picked a dud? Are all Thai girls as bad as they are painted by these guys or what? I get nervous about coming over for my next holiday when I read all the horror stories. Is there some easy way to pick a good one?
Yankee Doodle

Dear Yankee Doodle,
You are forgetting that there is a legion of lovely ladies out there who are doing all the right things by their men, be that a short term arrangement or a long term steady/married situation. These people do not need to ask Hillary for advice, so you are getting the wrong impression if you think everyone is like the sad people who write to me. Many of them do try and warn the tyros, but I believe their situations and their problems do not really represent the majority of farang/Thai liaisons. However, remember that in any man/woman relationship there can be problems. Look at the divorce rate in your own country, for example. The last figures I read were 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce and 60 percent of second marriages go down the alimony alley as well. The simple answer, Petal, is to use discretion and judgment before plunging headlong into something that could be an unsuitable partnership. Is the girl always looking for money? Does her father have a sick buffalo? Does her brother fall off his motorcycle and break any number of legs requiring expensive operations, when public hospital treatment is very, very inexpensive? If the answer is “yes” to any of those questions, move on to the next lady, and apply the same simple tests!

Dear Hillary,
I live in the UK, but come over to Thailand twice a year. I think I would be better off having a bank account in Thailand that I could send some money over to when I have some spare, instead of walking around with cash. Some friends have told me it’s impossible for me to get a bank account on a tourist visa. Is this the case? What should I do? Should I send it to my Thai girlfriend? I don’t know her very well, but she does look after me when I go over there.
Bill the banker

Dear Bill the banker,
The safest way is for you to transfer your money into my personal bank account, where I will keep it safe for you. This is much better than sending it to some girl you meet in a bar. No matter how well she looks after you. Now I am joking here, my Petal, but that is precisely what many men do every year. Never put your money in someone else’s account, as that is the best way to lose it. Bill, you can open a bank account here - just get a reliable Thai address to use, that’s all


Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Preventive camera maintenance

There is one school of thought that suggests that cameras are now so foolproof that they last for ever and no maintenance or servicing is necessary. I also know that when something costs very little, we tend to ignore it. When we are looking at 50 baht items, they are easily replaced with loose change.

The same does not go for cameras. Today’s cameras, even in the consumer range, are no longer cheap. It is difficult to find any half-decent DSLR camera under 20,000 baht and even the better point and shooters are around 10,000 baht. Photography and money are inexorably intertwined. To show you the money that can be involved in photography, my favorite lens was a 40 mm Hasselblad wide angle, with a huge bit of glass on the front, that would cost in Thailand over 200,000 baht. Worth looking after?

The first concept is to understand just what it is that will go towards destroying your camera. Usually these are simply, dust and grit, moisture and condensation, battery contents and being dropped. Looking after your investment is then a simple case of countering the above factors.

Moisture and condensation are the easiest ones to counter, but the dampness comes from more than just being caught out in the rain. Thailand is a hot and humid environment. How many times have you taken your camera outside and found you could not see through the viewfinder because it had steamed up? That is condensation. The best answer here is to keep small sachets of silica gel in your camera bag. Many bottles of tablets come with perfect little sachets in the top of them.

There will also be times when you get caught in the rain, or you may even want to get rain shots. The camera body is reasonably water proof, but you should carefully wipe the outside of the case dry afterwards, and especially blow air around the lens barrel and the lens mount.

Dust and grit is the ever present danger in the environment. How many times have you got a small piece of grit in your eye? Often, I will wager. Small particles such as that can be very bad for the lens focusing and zooming mechanics too. This is where a blower brush is needed. They are cheap, but do a great job. Get one. Never brush bits away with your fingers - your sweat is corrosive!

That leads us to the even more serious type of corrosion - leakage from batteries. Just about every camera in the world these days has a battery, even if it is just to drive the needle on the light meter. Working with an external battery pack on a Nikon I have found everything has failed - a sure sign of battery failure. Inspection showed this to be true, and the cheaper batteries leaked the most.

This little scenario would have been much worse, if the battery had been internal. The discharging batteries give off fumes that attack and corrode the complex electronic circuitry. That little problem can destroy the camera totally - expensive! There is a moral here, isn’t there?

In fact, there are two morals to be learned. The first is to check batteries every three months in this climate, I would suggest, rather than just waiting for the batteries to fail or become erratic. And secondly, you get what you pay for - so buy the best you can. It will serve you well in the end. Acid leakage (and even acid fumes) from a battery can totally ruin a modern camera, getting into the electronics so that it never works properly again. The answer here is to discard the batteries every twelve months, even if they seem to be fine, and if you are not going to be using the camera for an extended period, then take the batteries out altogether.

Finally, keep your camera in a soft case that can absorb some shocks. Not the silly leather or plastic thing it came in. If you have not got one - then go out and buy one today. They are very inexpensive, especially when compared to the cost of the camera. Preventive maintenance.


Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

Where there is a will there is a way, Part 1

Death is a depressing matter. No-one wants to talk about dying or what they are going to do with everything they own when they pass away but it is just one of those things that has to be done. After all, isn’t it less depressing to think that your loved ones will be looked after and cared for when you have gone?

A little history about Wills

Wills are spoken of in the Old Testament (Genesis 48), where Jacob bequeaths to his son Joseph, a portion of his inheritance, double to that of his brethren. Noah made a Will, which was witnessed and was where he disposed of the whole world. But it is the Greeks we have to thank for the Will, although not really in the form it is seen today. However, they started with a common theme of wishing for a long life and good health. The Romans took on the Will but in those days it was more a verbal contract with many witnesses who could later tell the tale.

In England, the Will was administered by the local priest and bequeathing to the church was a pre-requisite, it was written in Latin and was thought only the very rich had need of one. Wills became law after the Norman Conquest and it remained that way for a number of centuries. It was not until 1677 that Wills had to be signed by the person making the Will in the presence of witnesses.

Wills in Thailand

As an expatriate living in Thailand with assets both here and wherever you come from, it would be a good idea to look into having two Wills. Although Thai law does recognise the validity of foreign wills, the practicalities of proving the validity of the Will to the satisfaction of the Thai court may be onerous, or even impossible to meet.

In Thailand, there are 3 ways of acquiring a Will:
1. You write it yourself and make any adjustments yourself
2. You go to a lawyer and he drafts one for you
3. You get a Public Will which can be obtained at the local district office

Or you can go for none of the above - you die without having made one! Dying in Thailand without a valid Will in place will end up with the Thai state dividing up your possessions using the six classifications under Thai law, listed in order of Thai inheritance priority:

1. Spouse (50%) and children (equal share of residue)
2. Parents
3. Brothers and Sisters of full blood
4. Brothers and Sisters of half blood
5. Grandparents
6. Uncles and Aunts

Under Thai law, a statutory heir may be a non-Thai as well as a Thai citizen. The laws of Thailand make no distinction as to the nationality of the heir’s right. There are special regulations, however, regarding the inheritance of real estate by foreigners.

Why everyone needs a Will

Everyone needs a Will. If you are married with children, a couple living together or even single, it is vitally important that you have a Will in place. Some people have Wills but they are way out of date; others feel very healthy, think they will live forever and so put it off for a later date. Then something bad happens, a car accident, a heart attack or a stroke; whatever it may be, all of a sudden, it is just too late to get things sorted out. Your money could go to people it was not meant to and the whole process could well be subject to serious delays.

For an expat, imagine how difficult it would be for your family if you die whilst living abroad. How would they cope if you have had your accounts frozen until probate has being sorted out, this could be anywhere between six months and many years!

There are lots of reasons to why you need a Will in place, here are just five:

1. To allow you to decide who benefits from your estate. Do you know what happens to your estate when you do not have a Will in place? Do you believe that it all just passes to your partner when you shed your mortal coil? If you do, you are not the only one. In a recent survey conducted by the Co-op Funeral Services in the UK, more than half the people surveyed thought this was the case.

2. To allow you to decide on the guardianship of your children. Do you know who would have your kids, should you die unexpectedly during their early years? If you do, have you actually asked them? Putting this in a Will makes sure your children are looked after by the people you believe will look after them as well as you do. Kids can and often do end up as wards of court!

3. To avoid unnecessary expense. Arranging a Will is a lot cheaper than dying without one in place. Applications have to be made to the courts to appoint executors and insurance has to be applied for (at a premium) to protect those dealing with the estate in the absence of a Will. All of this can also take years to sort out and, in the meantime, all your assets are frozen which means family could struggle financially before it is all sorted.

4. To avoid any unnecessary disputes. The old saying ‘where there’s a Will, there’s a way’, well there is a new saying ‘where there’s no Will, there’s family you didn’t know existed’ - it is not very catchy, but it is true. Having a legally binding, well drafted Will in place makes sure these incidents do not happen. It is not just the ultra wealthy who fight legal battles to get their hands on great fortunes. There has been a surge in the number of court cases to contest inheritances in recent years. The most successfully contested Wills are the self written Wills from the local stationary shop.

5. To reduce Inheritance tax - More about IHT next week!
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

Tony Curtis (1925-2010)

As a youngster Tony Curtis wisely learned to protect his pretty-boy face during playground scuffles and from the heavy hands of his schizophrenic mother. He was brought up as one of three sons in an immigrant Hungarian-Jewish family, in the Bronx. One of his brothers suffered from the same illness as his mother, the other was killed by a truck in the streets of New York. His father was a would-be actor turned tailor and was, according to Curtis, very passive.

The attack on Pearl Harbor propelled a reluctant U.S.A. into the war and Tony, aged 17, into the forces from which he emerged unscathed and even more handsome aged 20. A government funded scheme allowed him to study acting in New York and as the saying goes, the rest is history – movie style.

His dazzling looks, luck, innate (though uneducated) intelligence, bright personality and sheer chutzpah and more than a dash of determination launched him first in the theatre and very soon took him to Hollywood and a contract at Universal along with a stable of other good-looking guys and gals, who were trained to dance, ride, sword fight, sing or whatever came naturally Even act.

Some 60 years later he had notched up over 100 movies, starred in TV series including The Persuaders, had Broadway successes, written a sprawling novel and had his paintings bought for major galleries and collections throughout the world.

He also found time to date many of the world’s most beautiful actresses, including Marilyn Monroe before she was a star, to marry six times, have six children and accumulate several fortunes, survive drug and alcohol addiction and retain a sense of humour. To its eternal shame Hollywood never awarded him an Oscar, not even ‘lifetime achievement style’. There may be some consolation in that considering the even more ludicrous omission of the best actor award to his hero Cary Grant and best director to the country’s greatest native born director, Howard Hawks.

The majority of the films which Curtis acted in were, frankly, pretty ordinary, some even bad. But many were decent enough pieces of entertainment, swashbucklers, thrillers, comedies and dramas. At least three were classics (all when he had ‘competition’ from talented co-stars) and another dozen have more than stood the test of time. Many are available on DVD and the following titles are (especially the first three or four) worth anybody’s time.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957: Dir Alexander Mackendrick), with Curtis as the press agent Sidney Falco and Burt Lancaster as the viper-like journalist J.J. Hunsecker in a scathing portrait of New York life. His greatest performance.

Some Like it Hot (1959: Dir Billy Wilder). Musicians Curtis and Jack Lemmon on the run from mobsters, take refuge in an all girls’ band, fronted by singer Marilyn Monroe. Curtis gets to ‘imitate’ his hero Grant in a vulgar, timeless comic masterpiece.

The Defiant Ones (1958: Dir Stanley Kramer). Curtis and Sidney Poitier on the run from prison, chained together, and initially hating each other. In its day an important liberal movie. Curtis insisted that Poitier receive joint star billing – a breakthrough for an African American in those conservative days.

Insignificance (1985: Dir Nicolas Roeg). Curtis as a Senator, meets up with Monroe, Einstein and others.

Spartacus (1960: Dir Stanley Kubrick). He plays a slave who runs away when propositioned by Laurence Olivier.

The Boston Strangler (1968: Dir Richard Fleischer). A flashily made but effective portrait of a real mass murderer, offering Curtis a plum role, gratefully received.

See also the comedy The Great Race, the colourful The Vikings, the gangster movie Lepke, Mackendrick’s last film before turning to teaching, Don’t Make Waves and the excellent thriller Criss Cross, which first got Curtis noticed, not least by Burt Lancaster the star of movie who was later to cast him in both Sweet Smell of Success and Trapeze, where they play high fliers in a circus competing for the attention of Gina Lollobrigida and each other.


Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai

RED: US, Action/ Comedy – “RED” stands for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous.” Starring Bruce Willis, with Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich. This old team used to be the CIA’s top agents - but the secrets they know made them the Agency’s top targets. Now framed for assassination, they must use all their collective cunning to keep one step ahead of their pursuers and stay alive. Early reviews: Generally favorable.

Red Eagle / Insee Dang: Thai, Action/ Thriller – Ananda Everingham is really terrific as the red-masked crusader in this re-launch of an action franchise from the 1950s and ’60s that starred the legendary leading man Mitr Chaibancha. Set in 2016, the story shows Bangkok as a city threatened by crime, corruption, and a deadly nuclear project that is about to be built. In the midst of the dismay, a mysterious hero called Red Eagle steps forward to eliminate the evildoers. But he has to face his dangerous enemy Dark Devil, the elite killer hired to hunt him. Rated 18+ in Thailand.

It is a wonderment! There are flashes of director Wisit Sasanatieng’s trademark wild use of color and his antic imagination, but subservient here to the demands of a comic book masked crusader much along the lines of Batman. In fact his icon, the spread eagle, looks much like the spread bat-wings of Batman’s symbol. The film, really, is a sort of Thai Dark Knight. I have to say that the film is horrifically bloody, too much so for my taste. One particular moment got me to squirming, when we see the details of Ananda stitching up his own huge gashes with a large hook. And, not only are there way too many beheadings, but they are wild and extended beheading sprees, and then they go on to play around with the severed heads for awhile. Uggch.

For the whole, Wisit was mostly having fun and I found his enjoyment infectious. There’s a lot of imagination at work, in a wild and impossible comic book style.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (3D): US/ Australia, Animation/ Fantasy – The animation is superb! I’ve been a fan of animation since I was a kid visiting the Walt Disney Studios near my boyhood home, and I think Walt would be thrilled by the animation here: the textures of the feathers, the motions of the owls, and particularly the expressiveness of the faces and the life in the eyes. I think he would also be pleased by the nightmare-inducing terror in the film which matches some of the frightening scenes of the witch in Snow White, and the death of Bambi’s mother. The use of 3D is superb, and in particular the scenes of flight are giddy with exuberance and excitement. Shown only at Airport Plaza, and in both a 3D and a 2D version. Please note: the 3D is real 3D, and is a true step forward in the art. If you at all appreciate animation, don’t miss it! Mixed or average reviews.

It’s about a young barn owl who is kidnapped by the owls of St. Aggie’s, ostensibly an orphanage, but actually where owlets are brainwashed into becoming soldiers. Our hero escapes to the island of Ga’Hoole, to help its noble owls fight the army being created by the wicked rulers of St. Aggie’s. The story is good, but mammothly complicated and confusing, based on a series of books which would seem to be required reading for even minimal understanding. This may be the beginning of a series, but they should have gone slower with the plot elements in this first one, in my opinion. It is a remarkably detailed world the owls inhabit, full of its own culture and ways of doing things, and it takes a bit of getting use to.

Note: As if for comparison with the superb 3D of the Owls, there is a short before the main feature – a cartoon before the cartoon, if you like. And this cartoon, a Warner Bros. Roadrunner cartoon, is also in 3D – the worst 3D you will hopefully ever see! I think it’s truly dangerous to the eyes, causing wild twitching, liable to put them permanently out of whack! There are long stretches where the background is actually in front of the foreground! How bad is that? Your eyes and brain don’t know how to decipher that. Close your eyes while this short’s running.

Eternity / Chua Fah Din Sa Lai: Thai, Drama/ Romance – A class act, and solid Thai filmmaking. It’s one of the most interesting Thai movies to come along in some time. Based on a revered and classic Thai novel, the film tells a story in which adulterous lovers are physically chained together for all eternity. Starring a truly excellent Ananda Everingham. In Thai only at Vista, English subtitles at Major.


MAIL OPINION : By Shana Kongmun

Dear Readers

Please accept our apologies for the delay in publication this month, unforeseen circumstances forced us to delay. We will be publishing our next issue on the 1st of October.

This year marks my one year anniversary as Managing Editor for the paper and it marks Chiang Mai Mail’s 8th year in publication. It’s been a steep learning curve for me and a tough year for the paper in general. However, we are striving to give you the news you want and publish those things that affect you the most. Hence one of the reasons for the unexpected delay.

There have been issues with delivery of late, of which we are well aware and are working hard to overcome a change in staff to get the papers out to our subscribers. Please do email [email protected] if you haven’t received your paper of late with your full name and address.

And please accept our apologies for the hiccups and delays but realize that we are working hard to be the newspaper you want for Chiang Mai. As always, all letters, comments, suggestions and criticisms are welcome to the editor email above. As a relative newbie to Chiang Mai, I am more than willing to accept all the guidance you are willing to throw my way!
Yours
Shana Kongmun


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

Between rain and sunshine

October is traditionally the last month of the rainy season. During the wet year of 2008, the rainy season ended in mid November, but during last year’s El Nino the rainy season ended in mid October. This is the time to prepare the vegetable section, as the cold season favours most vegetables. You can plow the land, add manure, and buy seeds and bulbs. At Dokmai Garden we kept a tall ‘wildflower section’ in the monsoon woodland, to allow thriving populations of spiders, lady bugs, praying mantis and other predatory invertebrates. Now, towards the end of the rainy season, many insects become dormant so we harvested the tall wild flowers and will use them as mulch in our vegetable section. The mulch will provide shade for roots, lower water losses and supress weeds. Eventually the mulch will be integrated with the soil, providing organic matter for better soil texture and water holding capacity. This is also the time to make sure the irrigation pipelines are not clogged, that sprinkler heads function and that valves can be turned. Siamese tulips (Curcuma spp) and many other members of the ginger family will go underground. Although the senescent foliage is unpretty, make sure you do not cut the above ground parts until they turn brown. Otherwise the rhizome will lose nutrients. It could also be good to inspect your trees for the notorious Dendrophthoe parasite. This mistletoe-like plant has spread during the wet season, and should be controlled, as it derives nutrients from a range of trees. Any kind of serious digging should be done now, as the soil will become hard as rock during the dry season. If you have a quarry full of water, and if you wish to slow down the loss of water, you can add mud to the bottom, or even add chicken manure (1 bag per 300 cubic meters). This will result in prolific algal production, and when the nutrients are depleted, the microscopic algae will sink to the bottom and plug the pores. www.dokmaigarden.co.th. www.dokmaidogma.wordpress.com.


Life in Chiang Mai: By Colin Jarvis

World Class Chiang Mai

Sometimes there comes a time in the life of a city when it ceases simply to be a location and becomes a centre, a focus, for some very special quality. Sometimes this lasts for only a few years, sometimes for thousands. London, Paris and New York have all been centres of fashion design-for a while. Hollywood and Bollywood have been known all over the world for their film production for quite some time, Brussels, for a longer period, has been known for its lace-making.

These places became centres of excellence for whatever talent they exhibited, they became recognized by the world at large and their stature grew accordingly. Chiang Mai is a location that is known for its tourist attractions but it is no different from thousands of other cities throughout the world; it does not seem to have a major talent that is world class-until now!

Things are happening in Chiang Mai. The city seems to have found new confidence in itself and it is becoming more recognized by cities, organisations and businesses throughout the world. The city is growing in stature, it is no longer just a regional centre and a tourist destination it is becoming a city in the fullest sense of the word. It is becoming known for its creativity.

Chiang Mai has always had a creative people. The plethora of craftsmen, artists, musicians and performers demonstrate this fact. But now Chiang Mai is poised to step onto the world stage as a Creative City.

The first Doi Saket International film Festival takes place from the 23rd to the 30th of October. Films from 20 countries will be shown and the programme looks impressive. You can find more details about this new creative event elsewhere in this paper.

Throughout the year there are many festivals of art and culture in Chiang Mai. We actually have some good facilities and this is stimulating people to organise more events. I hear there is a move afoot to create a major music festival in the city. I hope the organisers succeed in their endeavours.

However, if Chiang Mai is to become a truly creative city it cannot rely simply on the arts. There is no doubt that a strong creative and cultural force attracts other types of creative people such as writers, designers, publishers and so on. As I wander about the city and I am increasingly introduced to such people who have been attracted to the city because of its ambiance, its cultural and creative activities and the ease with which one can move about the city.

Perhaps the most exciting development is the current initiative called “Chiang Mai Creative City”. This is an initiative by many different people and organisations. Universities and academics, business and industry, designers, cultural organisations and interested individuals have come together to try to create a critical mass that will ensure that Chiang Mai becomes a world-class creative city. In doing so it will attract more and more businesses to locate here whether they be new start-ups or established organisations.

Success in this endeavour will require luck, great determination, skill and talent. The first signs are good. There are many organisations, such as the American consulate, which are supporting the scheme in any way they can. Recently Ben Ramirez came from the city of Austin in Texas to talk to the group about a similar project that his city had undertaken some years ago. His advice and the support of other cities and organisations will be invaluable. If you would like to find out more about the initiative you can Google “Chiang Mai Creative City” where you will find a number of links. This initiative could finally make Chiang Mai a world-class centre of excellence.


Day Tripper: Lampang, elephants, markets, temples and more

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is considered the epitome of Lanna architecture

By Heather Allen

Lampang is known for being a bit of a sleepy backwater but its definitely worth a visit. First stop should be the Elephant Conservation Center who is doing such good work in rescuing and rehabilitating elephants as already noted in a previous Day Tripper column. However, be sure to visit all the other glories that Lampang has to offer, Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is well known for its impressive viharn structure and is considered one of the temples that best encompasses Lanna temple architecture. The center piece is the open sided Viharn Luang, believed to date back to the early 1400’s. The Viharn contains a buddha image cast in 1563, Buddhist faithful leave offerings of small gold colorued Buddhas close to the gilded shrine that holds the Buddha.

All sorts of creatures, herbs and other mysterious foods on sale at Thung Kwian market.

Lampang boasts natural beauties as well, with Chae Son national park about 68 km north of Lampang town, it features well known waterfalls and hot springs, good for soaking the feet after hiking around the forest hoping to catch a peep of some of the wildlife. Doi Luang national park is also known for its waterfalls and if you have the time you can view Wang Kiew with 110 tiers, the largest waterfall in the park.

Thung Kwian market is also worth a visit, in Hang Chat district off Highway 11, between Chiang Mai and Lampang, it sells all sorts of interesting plants and herbs as well as herbal preparations.

So, while the elephants may be worth a day in itself, don’t forget to come back for a second or even third round as Lampang has many interesting sights to offer.


Staying happy in Paradise - theCounseling Corner

Richard L. Fellner

Thai - Western relationships

Relationships between Thais and Western partners: an evergreen topic! In this Counseling Corner series, we look below the surface to devote ourselves to the most important issues that can await those who enter such relationships.

Part 4: Status
and Money

What am I being ‘loved’ for? A client asked a couple of weeks ago.

Indeed, it can be hard to tell at times when being in a relationship with a Thai partner. The Asian concept of relationships differs from the Western ideal in many ways, but one of the most important differences is that men are generally supposed to bring in the money and to provide status, while women help to spend the money and are taken care of; in return, they manage the household and do their best to make their husband feel happy at their side.

Now, the interesting thing is that many Western men admire the ‘warm’ and traditional qualities of Thai women - but once they start to live with them, they want them to ‘emancipate’ - if only from their tradition of expecting financial support! So it doesn’t come as a surprise that arguments and unhappiness over the role of money in the relationship is the most frequent issue Western/Asian couples have to deal with.

Expats with a long experience of living in Asia know this too well, Asian women deal with the reluctance of their Western partners their own ways: few would quit a relationship over it, but of course the money they need to fulfill their dreams (and be it just to buy the new ‘Honda’ for their papa, a washing machine for their mother, a new mobile phone for their brother and...) has to come from somewhere. So they will try to ‘convince’ their partner for quite a while, or sooner or later fling to attract money from other sources. In Thailand, that’s quite often by freelancing as a ‘playgirl’, as it can generate the most money within the shortest amount of time. That way or another, financial issues can result in tensions that leave both partners speechless out of frustration and anger, and extremely hurt at times.

Thus, finding a compromise that works for both partners in time is crucial in developing a relationship that is satisfying for both. To avoid problems right from the beginning - or at least to resolve already gridlocked situations - using a neutral counselor to moderate and help work out a solution for the emotionalized issues can literally be worth the salt.

Live the happy life you planned! Richard L. Fellner is head of the Counseling Center Pattaya in Soi Kopai and offers consultations in English and German languages after making an appointment at 0854 370 470.


BIRWATCHING TALES: Laughing Thrushes at Kaeng Krachan

Asian Openbill looking for apple snails. Photo by Ubon Gilman.

By Mike Gilman

Startled, we certainly were. The buff-brown body and long pointed winged bird ejected from beneath our feet, it’s flight pattern characteristic so erratic and close to the ground. As it only flew a few metres we were able to stealthily approach it’s hidden dropping zone. The wild grassland area we roamed also had jigsaw piece patches of rock-land and soil, a perfect camouflage palette for the Indian Nightjar. This 23cm long, moth loving nocturnal feeder, and daytime sleeper, played ‘ hide and seek’ with us, as we stalked around it’s territory. As well as a surprisingly short bill it’s legs were short too, and not practical for walking. In-flight white patches above and below the brown barred-striated wings, and unique call, help with identification. The call is akin to the sound of a ping pong ball when dropped onto a table, culminating with an acceleration of notes. For four consecutive days in July we observed three Nightjars in the same territory on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, then they were gone.

SSE from Chiang Mai, and 360kms as the crow flies, lies the wetland resort of Bung Boraphet. This 132,737 rai nature expanse is host to a plethora of feathered wildlife. In mid August we exercised our wanderlust, looking for the unexpected. Despite there being many areas of Thailand experiencing flood conditions the resort’s lake water level was quite low, so much so that local boatmen were reluctant to risk their crafts and livelyhoods by taking us around. However there is always someone willing to gamble, so we jumped aboard and zig-zagged through the deeper channels. Low nimbus stratum prevailed and did not bade well as we approached a wooded island. Then, the engines were cut and we drifted towards a mud bank. The island’s trees were a birding paradise, so with binoculars raised we watched the antics of, Asian Openbills, Darters, Indian Shags, Spot Billed Pelicans, Grey Herons, Black Crowned Night Herons, various Egrets, and, the “icing on the cake” was a Plaintive Cuckoo being fed by a diminutive Tailorbird. Returning to our base we slowly passed floating Lotus beds, where the 33cm long Pheasant-Tailed Jacanas leaf-walked, looking for tasty morsels to relieve their hunger pangs.

Close to Bung Boraphet is Pak Nam Po. We stood on the banks of the mighty Chao Phraya river, for it is here where the river begins it’s Gulf bound journey. Looking a brown-slurry colour the river level was high because it’s main northern tributaries, Ping, Wang, Yom and Nan were also swelled from recent storms. Broken green leafed branches drifted by on the current and made perfect perches for the 30cm long Pied Kingfishers to show their talents. We watched as they hovered, dived, caught and devoured their slimy silver prey. A species we have not seen in Chiang Mai, but such a joy to observe.

Bung Boraphet is on the doorstep of Nakhon Sawan, and only 17kms from the city is Noknam Park. Except for us the wetlands area was deserted. Conditions were hot and humid, so were we. After walking for some time swampland approached and we hid ourselves amid reeds beside the water’s edge, and waited. Only a few minutes passed before a blackish, Moorhen type bird was seen a stone’s-throw away. The bird ran over floating vegetation, a habitat well suited for the Bronzed-Winged Jacana. With black upper parts, white flashes above the eyes and bronzed wings colour, this 28cm long water bird stepped along with a dancers aplomb. To our left, tall, broad green swamp leaves began to move, a red bill and forehead appeared, looked around, then stretched it’s blue-purple neck. The 43cm long Purple Swamphen was another surprise to add to our list. We left the mosquito rife swampland and walked through an avenue of trees in jovial mood, not expecting to see anything else unusual. Then, above us, a huge bird shape jumped from branch to branch. This day was not our birthday, but it was one we will not forget. Perhaps the smallest of all Thai Hornbills , yet what a awesome sight. At 70cm long the Oriental Pied Hornbill displayed a unique cask, and in flight the white tipped wing feathers glided along in azure sky. What a fairytale day.

Further south the supposed wetlands around Kao Sam Roi Yot National Park, near Pran, Prachuap Khiri Khan, were mostly devoid of water. Where previously in the past Egrets and Herons abounded, their former food sources had now dried up. Only a few pockets of small marsh lagoons remained. There the spindly red legs of the 38cm long Black Winged Stilts eked a living from their meagre oasis. Their needle like bills are ideal when searching for aquatic delicacies. It was whilst scanning the Stilts that a brief glimpse of a Greater Painted Snipe inching passed marsh grass gave us our surprise of the day. This distinguished, 25cm long, somewhat nocturnal, secretive Snipe came and went, just like that. And people still reason, “ why is this pursuit so interesting”?.

Our north-bound return journey by-passed Cha-am. West of this point is the famed Kaeng Krachan National Park and dam. From the dam the vista portrays an English Lake District panorama. We stayed a few nights in a riverside lodge, a ‘back to nature’ feeling. In the early morning bird song and life abounded. Large Pacific Reef Egrets trod the estuaries, and the bobbing tails of Grey Wagtails could be seen at the river’s edge. Colourful, Blue-Tailed Bee Eaters and Lineated Barbets sourced breakfast from nearby trees, and then, we heard laughing sounds nearby. A group of seven birds explored branches and dropped to the ground in search of food. Sporting a black necklace on a white neck and chest, was the key to their name. These 30cm long active feeders were Lesser Necklaced Laughing Thrushes, such an appropriate name, and a call to be remembered. They were common whilst we were in the area, and never too far from them was the black Lesser Racket-Tailed Drongo.

Within this article the Asian Openbill bird is mentioned. This 82cm long, Heron look-alike, sports a long bill which cannot close, (hence it’s name) a quirk of nature. That said, the specialised bill somehow extracts it’s main food source, apple snails, from the land. Enjoy the gifts of nature.



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