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
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?
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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
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
by Harry Flashman
Preventive camera maintenance
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
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.
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
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)
3. Brothers and Sisters of full blood
4. Brothers and Sisters of half blood
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
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
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)
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
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
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.
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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.
of creatures, herbs and other mysterious foods on sale at Thung Kwian
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
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
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
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.