HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Care for Dogs

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snap shots

Money Matters

DVD of the Week

Let's Go To The Movies

Bridge in Paradise


How does your garden grow?

Life in Chiang Mai

Day Tripper

The Doctor's Consultation:  by Dr. Iain Corness

Abusing your protective cover

I was prompted to write about this subject after seeing so many European tourists sporting a wonderful red colored skin, with contrasting white strap marks. Several cases of acute sunburn every day. Now while acute sunburn can generally be got over, the long term effects may not be as easy to deal with.

For immediate treatment cool the burned areas. Put wet towels in the freezer and remove after five minutes and place on the burned areas. As soon as the cold towels are no longer effective, change them for another one from the freezer.

If the skin is unbroken, you can try a very, very weak hydrocortisone ointment, but not if the skin is blistered. With blisters, do not ‘pop’ them, but just cover for a few days. Use simple paracetamol for the pain.

However, the biggest problems may come later - much later.

I have written before about lumps and bumps on the ‘skin’, that fantastic wrapping that we all need to keep forever if we are to remain healthy! And what a wonderful organ our skin really is. It regulates the passage of water and electrolytes and keeps that internal collection of bones and organs neatly covered with a self-sealing all enveloping wrapping. We can’t live without our skin.

Unfortunately we tend to abuse our skin, and I must admit I am no exception. Sun block was not high on my list of picnic requirements, even though it should be.

Like all of our other organs, the skin organ can have problems too, and these range from minor rashes, fungal infections, cysts, warts and other “lumpy” conditions that we call Tumors. Now the very word ‘Tumors’ strikes fear in the hearts of many, but this is purely a term to describe growths on the skin, which may or may not be ‘malignant’. In fact, most skin tumors are not malignant (called ‘benign’), and even with the malignant ones, the majority are not going to kill you. Having said that, it does not mean that you should ignore skin growths. While most will not kill you, they can make the last few years very unpleasant if left untreated, like Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC’s), Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCC’s) that eat you away and then the Melanomas that can be fatal.

Yes, Melanoma is also much more widespread than you would imagine. And the statistics can be quite frightening. Take these US statistics - Melanoma strikes people of all ages, all races, all economic levels and both sexes. It is already the most common cancer for women 25 to 29 and the second most common cancer for women 30 to 34 and the incidence of melanoma is increasing faster than any other cancer. An American’s lifetime risk of developing melanoma is about 1 in 75.

Now those American statistics are not so bad compared to some other countries. Two of the worst, as far as melanoma statistics are concerned are Australia and New Zealand. Why? Because these sunny countries have become inhabited by fair skinned people from the northern hemisphere, a skin which was not designed for the tropical sun.

So where does that put us Caucasians living in a tropical country like Thailand? At risk, that’s what. And I am sure you have all been like me and suffered sunburn from time to time, one of the predisposing factors in changing seemingly “innocent moles” into malignant Melanomas. Researchers have also shown that overexposure to the sun as a child can result in an increased risk of Melanoma as an adult. In my era, children were actually sent out to play in the sun, because it was ‘healthy’!

The message with the Melanomas is to find the moles before they change - and that takes a trained and skilled eye and sometimes a biopsy as well. But it is worth the look. Melanoma can be fatal, remember. These dark pigmented skin lesions with irregular borders invade the deeper tissues and can spring up as secondary lesions as well. These are truly tumors that can kill you. Wide and deep surgical excision is the treatment of choice, that often leaves a most unattractive scar.

Prevention is much better than cure!



To sum up Sammy: adorable, affectionate, afflicted and available! Sammy has a limp due to an injury on his front left paw. He is otherwise healthy, loving, strikingly beautiful and very much in need. Contact the shelter (08 47 52 52 55) or language (08 69 13 87 01) to make an appointment to meet him.

Heart to Heart  with Hillary

Dear Hillary,

Why are Thai women so noisy? I always thought they were nice quiet creatures, but they certainly aren’t. They shout at each other, instead of talking. They don’t bother walking next door to talk to their neighbor, they just stand at their doorways and shout across the street. Parties have them screaming at each other, over the top of ear-splitting music. Are they deaf from birth, or just going that way?

Dear Mark,
It is partly a cultural thing. If you hadn’t noticed before, Thai women don’t ever walk anywhere, so to communicate with the neighbors means a good full-bodied yell from the front steps. This also means that we save on mobile phone batteries. The volume from the boom boxes means that we have to shout louder to be heard over the top of them, which means that the little man at the music console winds the noise up even further (I refuse to call it “music”), and so it goes on. You’re not going to change things, my Petal. Just accept it. Have you thought about buying ear defenders. They are quite cheap at the bigger pharmacies.

Dear Hillary,
I have just found out that my husband has been having regular massages at a massage salon close to his work. He has not said anything to me, but the neighbor spotted his car outside on more than one occasion. Should I confront him, or wait till he says something? I can always say the neighbors told me.
Massage Marie

Dear Massage Marie,
There’s massages and “massages”, my Petal, and a lot depends upon which type. Many people enjoy a physical massage or a foot massage and these types are totally above board. However, there are also the soapy water massages, which are very much behind closed doors. Husbands and wives should not have secrets from each other, so I suggest the idea of bringing the subject up because the neighbors told you his car was seen outside is the best way. However, do not jump to conclusions, or accuse your husband, until you have some proof of philandering. He may have parked the car there as it was as close as he could get to his nearby office. He might have also just slipped out of the office to buy a newspaper… but on the other hand!

Dear Hillary,
My expat mates are all married to Thai women, and we have a gathering at least once a week. It used to be a blokes night, a few beers and such and the women would get together and make som tum and have a giggle. Over the past few months, the number of women has increased and the number of blokes has gone down as some of us had to go back overseas or work off-shore. This means that the som tum party has taken over and it’s gone from one night a week to every night of the week. What should we do now? Go off and have our own party down the pub or what?
Geoff and the boys

Dear Geoff and the boys,
Since the weekly meeting has gone out of your control, you now don’t like it. I think all that you can do now is take the party to the pub as you suggest, but I would advise you to take the wives with you, or the whole thing will get out of hand. Remember that the power of Isaan som tum is irresistible. Don’t fight it.

This next one came to my desk via a circuitous route from the Editor. Dear Ed; Reference Mr. Fellners column “Staying happy in Paradise” about the ‘messy’ syndrome and how to deal with it; I have a simple solution: THROW THE BUM OUT! One change of the locks and no more beer money and he’s gone!
Ex Ms. Singha Jerry

Dear Ex Ms. Singha Jerry,
I presume you are referring to one of our irregular letter writers, the one called Singha Jerry, who has always had a tough life, if we were to believe him. Last I heard, he was begging for money outside a 7-Eleven to get enough money to buy a bottle of Chang, Singha now being too expensive. This is the same Singha Jerry who had a tattoo done at 4 in the morning, and can’t even spell it. No Ms. Singha Jerry, thank yourself lucky, and it was thoughtful to get the locks changed as well. You deserve better.

Dear Hillary,
Why are there so many lady-boys in Thailand? Everywhere you go there seems to be a lady-boy these days. Every bar has at least one, they are soliciting on the sidewalks and there are complete shows made up of them. When will it stop? What’s the answer Hillary, as I am sure you will know what to do.
Katoeys R Us

Dear Katoeys R Us,
Love your name, Petal, but what is your problem? I get the feeling you are worried about a threat to your own sexuality here. This is Thailand. Live and let live. Don’t bite them and they won’t bite you. We all have out place in society. Even you!

Camera Class:  by Harry Flashman

Welcome to the Third Dimension

Photography is a two dimensional art form. Height and width and that’s it, I’m afraid. To get the three dimensions of height, width and depth, you need to produce a hologram, something beyond the scope of your point and shooter or mobile phone, I’m afraid. And I don’t care how many mega-pixels it boasts.

Going from 2D to 3D is like the current advances in television, going from HD (high definition) to 3D flat screen. I have yet to see local TV in 3D, but undoubtedly it will come - but when? And at what price?

However, while waiting for the 3D revolution to overhaul us, we can do something towards giving our 2D photographs some 3D characteristics. The accepted definition of photography is “painting with light” as what you are doing is using light in all its directions and intensities to illuminate your subject, before you record it on film or in electronic pixels.

When a young photographer first gets his ‘professional’ lighting equipment, he (or she) tends to flood everything with enormous light levels. Every part of every subject is totally covered with the light, and the new young photographer is delighted with the fact that there are no dark corners left unilluminated. It is a bright, white world out there.

Unfortunately, there is something missing from the final shots. A certain lack of form or shape. The only contrast in the final photograph relies totally on color. Yellows on blue are very popular under these circumstances. Yes, I too have photographed a model in a yellow dress against a blue doorway. Super shot, but missing something.

The item that is missing is the third dimension. It is back to the photograph with the two dimensional image - height and width. However, the third dimension, depth, is totally missing. This third dimension, the so-called 3D effect can be produced by some visual trickery, which you know and all photographers know, called ‘shadow’. It is the shadow which differentiates a circle from a ball, but if you blast the spherical subject with so much light that there is no shadow, the final result has no shape, no depth, no 3D effect, and will look just like a circle.

This is why the photographer has to use shadow to give the impression of the third dimension. This makes a 2D image look like a 3D one, and is done by careful manipulation of both the lighting and the shadows that the lighting produces.

Take the outdoors situation, for example. We always suggest to the novices that they should photograph early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Do not shoot in the middle of the day. One reason for this is because in the early mornings and late afternoons the lighting (from the sun) is directional, skimming along the top of the earth’s surface, and makes for plenty of shadow. In the middle of the day, however, the sun is directly overhead and does not make for pleasant shadows, and even landscapes will look flat and featureless. Look at some of the famous landscapes done by Ansel Adams in the early mornings and you will see what I mean. For a photographer, the middle of the day is purely for siestas, not for photography. It does mean that you get up at some dreadful early hours in the morning to drive to the location, but the end result is worth it. Look at Mr Adams’ photographs again.

One of the problems with new digital SLRs is the powerful on-camera flash. This pops up at any time and overpowers the natural lighting, and being centrally mounted makes for a photograph flooded with light, but no real shadow. If you disable the on-camera flash, you will also get better photographs, other than after sundown, where you need some light source to be able to register an image.

Light from the side as much as you can. An off-camera flash can do this for you, but if you don not have this equipment, shoot early morning or late afternoon and turn the subject to get the side-lighting and 3D effect.

Money Matters:  Paul Gambles MBMG International Ltd.

It is possible to be good and still make money, part 1

When it comes to pollution, the health of the planet is related to how much resource each person uses. Therefore, the total impact we have on the planet is approximately the world’s population multiplied by the average standard of living. This is referred to as the “ecological footprint.”

The television programme, by David Attenborough, “How many people can live on planet Earth?” is a good reminder that we not only need to consider markets in the short term but also need to think about some important and long term determinants and how these will affect global financial conditions.

Human Population - 1,000 A.D. to 2,000 A.D.

The graph on this page shows how the world’s population began to grow more and more about three hundred years ago and the rate has gotten faster all the time. By the end of the second millennium there was a net gain of three new people every second of the day, or 259,200 every 24 hours. Despite the efforts of one or two countries there seems to be no sign of this rapid increase in population ceasing any time in the near future so it is quite probable that there could be an extra 2.5 billion people on this planet by 2050. This also goes hand in hand with the UN forecast of the world population being around 9.5 billion at the end of the first half of the 21st century. Using this guideline it means that there will be an extra fifty four million people in the world every year.

Until we devise a method of dumping all our rubbish in deep space, we have to recycle, burn or store everything we produce or consume. This means we have to be very careful how we do this as we cannot really afford to make Mother Nature angry with us since we rely on her for all our agriculture, energy and many other needs. Thus we go back to the ecological footprint of how many people use what and how efficiently we manage resources and control pollution.

There is an old survival maxim that the body cannot survive without air after 3-4 minutes, water after 3-4 days and food after 3-4 weeks. Therefore it does not take a genius to work out that we should look after these vital elements.

Assuming the above figures are correct, it has already been calculated that planet Earth cannot sustain 9.5 billion people. It presently cannot supply enough clean, potable water for those of us who exist today. Well over two billion people suffer from poor quality drinking water and water shortages - especially the two countries with the world’s largest populations.

Given the massive environmental costs that go with the ever increasing demands for water as a vital resource, the development of new, cost-effective solutions which would lead to a more efficient use of water is not only essential for the survival of the human race as we know it but financially attractive as well.

As intimated above, there is only so much water available to us and one of the big problems is that a lot of it is not in the same place as the people who actually need it. The continued growth of the world’s population as well as the creation of a middle class in developing countries means that the demand for water and more water intensive food such as meat is only going to increase.

Given all of this, it is easy to see why water is such a compelling investment story. It just goes back to the old tenet of ‘Supply’ and ‘Demand’. In China alone, money spent on improving the water infrastructure will be USD125 billion. This will provide many opportunities for western based companies to go and help the Chinese with things like water generation, filtration, ionization, purification and a host of more important factors which will increase the amount of potable water for the people of that nation.

As Steve Goldin, vice president of strategy indices at S&P states, “Water-based companies have been providing consistently strong returns. Speciality indices, such as the Global Water Index, are increasingly popular with investors. Due to its strong historic returns, we continue to witness investor demand.”

This is not to be sneezed at. Less than fifteen percent of China’s population can access safe drinking water from a tap and over more than 66% of the country’s 600 largest cities do not have enough water because of pollution or direct shortages.

However, let us not just concentrate on the eastern hemisphere. It should be remembered that this time last year California was planning water deliveries to irrigation districts and various cities throughout the state which were just five percent of their contracted allotments. According to the University of California the extremely severe rationing in the state has led to tens of thousands of farm workers losing their jobs and well over a quarter of a million acres of cropland being left uncultivated. This is important as it used to be an old adage that in America one farmer in the field of agriculture provided enough food for 35 people - five of which were overseas. This was no unplanned situation but directly related to the Morrill Land Grant College Act of 1862 which allocated land for the purpose of creating State Colleges with the requirement they must teach “agriculture and military science.” If America cannot sustain its food production then not only is it in trouble but so is the rest of the planet’s population.

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

London to Brighton (U.K. 2006), 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (Romania, 2007)

These prize-laden films burn into the consciousness as surely as a red hot brand sears the skin. Long, long after seeing them for the first time I could recall the linear story lines, the tensions, images and above all the plight of the vulnerable protagonists, played with such conviction and integrity that the movies, to coin a clich้, become slices of life, in the urgent tradition of the great neo-realist films of the past.

Of the two, the Romanian work, directed by Cristian Mungiu, is the better and deservedly received the Cannes Palme d’Or as best film, plus over 20 further awards world wide. The English movie, a brilliant debut by Paul Andrew Williams, is more visceral, with the pace and sub plot of a thriller. Both share a common theme: the plight of young women fighting for their very existence in a hostile environment. And surviving.

London to Brighton tells of a pimp who forces a prostitute to procure a young girl for the pedophile father of a sadistic London gangster. Out of fear she tracks down a pretty, homeless 11 year old and guiltily takes the youngster to the tough, elderly Scotsman, who turns out to be as brutal as his son.

Things go badly wrong (how else?) and the blowsy prostitute and the waif are on the run, pitiably heading for safety 60 miles away on the coast in Brighton, with the revengeful gangster soon on their trail. To say more might spoil the impact of an initial viewing. Suffice to say, the film works on two levels: a heart stopping and violent cat and mouse story and as a compassionate study of two vulnerable, pathetic females at the mercy of their own weakness in an unforgiving world.

The Romanian film is on a bigger scale, combining a fierce criticism of society at large, of Catholic ‘morality’ and of the rottenness of the regime depicted during the 1980s when the film is set.

The story concerns a young woman who, pregnant by her boyfriend, decides on an illegal abortion. Helped by a girl friend, she heads towards pain, possible death and a prospect of imprisonment. The journey is as fraught as the trip to Brighton and even more costly in terms of humiliation. It is an altogether ‘cooler’ work, unflinchingly direct, observant, engrossing, with small incidents and details piled one upon the other as we are drawn into this alien world so that soon nothing exists outside the screen we are watching.

This is the work of a remarkable director who makes up part of the human tragedy unfolding before our eyes. The film’s rhythm is patient, tightening the pressure slowly and inexorably, in the style of Michael Haneke, where the tension becomes so fierce that one almost forgets to breathe. This is the stuff of great cinema, creating a reality that transcends the mere picaresque.

What you see in 4 Months….is real life elevated into art, depicted with compassionate outrage. The victim is tossed about like a cork on a turbulent sea, but like a cork she does not sink, her spirit is more resilient than the oppressive society and religion and short-sightedness which surrounds her. Both movies are ultimately optimistic and life affirming. Available at the DVD shop, 289 Suthep Road. (053 808 084).

N.B. Apologies to Danish director Bille August for a mistake in the Jan 1 column. I wrote that the Dardenne brothers were unique in receiving two Palme d’Or awards when in fact August also received two, since they were inaugurated in 1975 to replace the Grand Prix. Francis Coppola also received two, but one of these was shared. My thanks to the reader who spotted my careless research.

Let's Go To The Movies:  by Mark Gernpy

Now playing in Chiang Mai

Megamind:US, Animation/ Action/ Comedy – Actually, believe it or not, I found this rather cute and funny. But you do have to like animation. It’s about the unhappiness of the most brilliant supervillain the world has ever known – and the least successful. Over the years, he has tried to conquer Metro City in every imaginable way. Each attempt, a colossal failure thanks to the caped superhero known as “Metro Man,” until the day Megamind actually defeats him in one of his evil plans. Some hilarious bits of comedy. The 3D is really quite excellent, and is leading me to believe that 3D is really more suited to animation than to live-action filming. One of the problems in 3D – the general darkness of the image – seems to be more readily overcome, by increasing the image’s brilliance, in animation rather than in live-action. Overall, the use of 3D is masterful, and probably the best I’ve seen, and it was planned in 3D from its inception. Generally favorable reviews.

Tron: Legacy: US, Action/ Adventure/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – A rebellious 27-year-old, is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his father, played by Jeff Bridges, a man once the world’s leading video-game developer. Looking into his father’s disappearance, he finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games in which his father has been living for 20 years – a visually stunning cyber universe that is advanced and exceedingly dangerous. I thought Bridges was sensational. The film is a visual trip, unfortunately now being shown only in 2D when really designed for 3D. Mixed or average reviews.

Burlesque: , Drama/ Musical/ Romance – A small-town girl ventures to Los Angeles and finds her place in a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer. With Cher, Christina Aguilera, and Stanley Tucci. It seems to be an attempt at a hybrid between Cabaretand Chicago, with mixed results. R in the US for language throughout, drug content, some violence, and sexuality.Mixed or average reviews.

The Tourist: US, Action/ Drama/ Thriller – A thoroughly enjoyable espionage caper/ romance. Highly recommended, if you don’t go expecting an action-packed film with Jolie kicking butt. Here Angelina Jolie is demure, however deadly, and we don’t see her tattoos. She and Johnny Depp come on as two stars doing a bit of fun together in an absolutely enchanting story and script, deceptive on several levels. There is much more here than meets the eye. See it! Depp is an American tourist whose playful dalliance with a stranger leads to a web of intrigue, romance, and danger. Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others– a very fine film!). This is delicious, sensual, and light in a way that mainstream entertainments almost never are these days. It’s one of those movies that will leave some viewers scratching their heads, wondering why there isn’t more action, more snazzy editing, more obvious crackle between its stars. But the people who get it will simply adore it: It’s a kind of espionage caper that’s visually sensuous, made with tender attention to detail, and an elegant, understated sense of humor. Generally unfavorable reviews.

The Warrior’s Way: Zealand, Action/ Fantasy/ Western – Geoffrey Rush in a visually-stunning modern martial arts western starring Korean actor Dong-gun Jang who plays an Asian warrior assassin forced to hide in a small town in the American Badlands. With Kate Bosworth and Danny Huston, directed by Sngmoo Lee. Rated R in the US for strong bloody violence. Mixed or average reviews.

Maybe If this shows up, see it.

Hereafter: Canada, Drama/ Fantasy – Matt Damon in a quiet, potent film by Clint Eastwood, which investigates what three people know about the afterlife. What do people believe, and what is the truth? Mixed or average reviews. But it sounds fascinating to me.

Due 20 Jan

Gulliver’s Travels (3D): , Adventure/ Comedy/ Fantasy – Travel writer Lemuel Gulliver takes an assignment in Bermuda, but ends up on the island of Lilliput, where he towers over its tiny citizens. With the usually very funny Jack Black. This is live action, not animated, only remotely related to the famous book. Generally unfavorable reviews.

Unknown: , Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – Liam Neeson plays a man who awakens from a coma to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one, not even his wife, believes him.

Due 27 Jan

The Fighter: US, Biography/ Drama/ Sport – Highly-praised film likely to be a serious contender for many Oscar honors. In this drama Mark Wahlberg plays boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward and his unlikely road to the world light welterweight title. His Rocky-like rise was shepherded by half-brother Dickie (Christian Bale), a boxer-turned-trainer who rebounded in life after nearly being KO’d by drugs and crime. Rated R in the US for language throughout, drug content, some violence, and sexuality. Generally favorable reviews.

Bridge in Paradise : by Neil Robinson

I hope you are having a happy new year and that all your finesses are successful. Here is a hand to test that wish. South deals and EW are vulnerable. You are sitting South and bid your eight diamonds to the hilt, by opening 4D. West passes. Your partner looks at his three aces and raises you to 5D, which is passed out (rather reluctantly on the part of East). West leads the king of hearts. What is your plan for making eleven tricks?

The obvious plan is to take the first trick on board with the ace of hearts, throwing a spade from hand. Then pull trumps in two rounds and lead a club towards the queen. Unfortunately the finesse fails and West wins with the king. Whatever you do you will lose two clubs and a spade for down one and all because you relied on the club finesse to bring the contract home. So can you see the winning play?

The alternative play is to try and set up dummy’s long suit. I have often seen players ignore this possibility, even when the long suit is much better than in today’s hand. It costs you nothing (except some careful play) and you can always fall back on the club finesse if it fails. Win the ace of hearts on board, throwing a spade from hand. Now trump a heart in hand (ruff high—not with the two of diamonds). Then lead that carefully preserved two of diamonds to the six on board. Ruff another heart in hand. Pull the last trump by leading to the ace. Ruff a fourth heart in hand. Success! Hearts split four-four. Lead a club to the ace (do not take the finesse because you must be sure of getting to board). Now lead the established fifth heart and throw your last spade. Finally you can lead towards the queen of clubs. If the king is onside you make twelve tricks. In today’s layout the king is wrong and you lose two clubs. However, you have made your contract, scoring eight trumps, the ace and the long heart, and the ace of clubs to make eleven tricks. Was that your plan to make the contract? If not, planning to make use of dummy’s long suit whenever possible would be a good new year’s resolution to make!

Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes new players. For information on the Club go to the web site If you have bridge questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: [email protected]

MAIL OPINION: By Shana Kongmun

Drunks on the road, again

What should be a joyous happy time of year often turns out sad for many people as drunks continue to drive on the road during the New Year’s holiday and while this year’s death toll has dropped, it is still tragically high.

I had the sad occasion to meet a man who, once again, lost a friend to an accident on a New Year. He was devastated, noting that this was the second time a friend had died during a New Year holiday.

A friend of mine was witness to a horrific accident near the bridge where, he was sure, the man had died. Slamming his motorbike into the pole, no helmet. Sad, and so preventable.

Yes, there were more police checkpoints, I even passed through a few but can’t say I saw much checking much less activity at all. And certainly no breathalyzing of the scary-fast driving guy in front of us.

Additionally, helmetless motorbike riders were still apparent everywhere, including, I am very sorry to report, a few police in uniform. How anyone else is expected to respect the law when the police don’t seem to, I am not sure. Sadly, Chiang Mai reported the highest number of deaths on January 3, with 4 deaths in one day, and regularly reported in the top three provinces for highest number of accidents.

Most of the police statisitcs reported that a large number of the accidents involved drunk driving and an even larger number of them involved motorbikes. It’s time that Thai people and the government instituted a zero tolerance policy towards drunk driving and arrested and removed every drunk off the road.

Until that happens, the death toll will still be tragically high and people will needlessly lose friends and family.

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

Garden animals

There are many accessories available at garden centres. Quite often the plants are fairly cheap, while chemical fertilizers, pesticides, mowers may cost much more. Here are some suggestions for replacing such costs: To reduce mosquito larvae, buy small fish such as tiger barbs. To reduce small scorpions, slugs and snails, keep chicken. No need to build a chicken house or to take care of them, they can look after themselves. If you get too many, simply eat them, or sell them. Instead of buying a rice tractor or spending hours digging your vegetable section, get an electrical fence and a pig. The pig will take care of your kitchen waste too, plowing and manuring your land, section after section. If you want the pork, then get a male and a female. Rat problems? Of course a cat will deal with that, but a cat will also kill your birds and lizards for fun. Better to refrain from slaughtering your house snake, which only kills for food. Do your water lilies look horrible due to holes caused by snails? Get a couple of rice-field terrapins, which will make your pond more interesting and reduce the snail problem. Do you consider buying a burglar alarm? Get a couple of geese. They are most loyal pets to you, and would loudly announce the presence of any intruder, even attack with beaks and powerful wing beats. You will get tasty eggs too. Do you hate the sound of a mower on a Sunday morning? Try using a sheep. Unlike goats they do not climb trees or eat everything. Do you need pest control in your vegetable section, but is angry with the chicken which may nibble your seedlings? Try some guinea fowl – they are delicious too! Do you spend too much money at the gym? Get a dog. Daily walks will give you the exercise needed, give you company and protection, and if you need somebody to slaughter a chicken, ask your canine friend for assistance.

Life in Chiang Mai: By Colin Jarvis

Red Stripe-Green Stripe

I popped into my favourite pub in Chiang Mai the other day. My mouth had been watering all morning; I was looking forward to a pint of Guinness. A late lunch, an old copy of Private Eye and a pint of the black stuff was just what I needed to revive me after a heavy meeting during the morning.

As I entered the pub I realised something was different. I could not quite put my finger on it until I realised that the drip mats had red tape stuck across them. There was red or green tape covering the beer fonts and many of the bottles. Something was up but I knew not what.

I then noticed that the pub was emptier than usual. Was I missing some major event? Had all the tourists decided to go home? What plague was decimating the residents of Chiang Mai?

“What will you have?” said the landlord. “A pint of Guinness” I replied. “I’m sorry” replied the landlord, “We cannot serve alcohol between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.”

A short, but intense, discussion then took place. However much I pleaded I quickly realised I was not going to be able to have my pint of Guinness. Why had my anticipation and enjoyment been thwarted I wondered?

It appears that officials from Bangkok had descended upon Chiang Mai to enforce recent regulations regarding the advertising, promotion and selling of alcoholic beverages. As with other dangerous and antisocial products such as cigarettes, logos are no longer allowed to be seen. This I could understand and accept but why are no sales being allowed between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m? I was told, but I do not know if this is true, that this is because the government wishes to discourage schoolchildren from drinking alcohol. Now, I too, would wish to discourage children from drinking alcohol but, surely, they should be in school between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

I then decided to do some informal market research. quickly discovered that 7-11, Tesco Lotus, Big C, and other large chains ban the sale of alcohol in the afternoon. I also discovered that most restaurants appear to continue to serve alcohol in the afternoon and food stalls and street kiosks do the same.

I quickly managed to slake my thirst with a bottle of Singha beer and realised that the regulations are by no means universally enforced. What a surprise, after all, this is Thailand.

As often happens it appears that the objective, which is a perfectly sensible one, is not going to be achieved by the proposed action. Also, as often seems to happen these days, it appears that this is one more problem for the tourists to bear, but will not affect the ordinary people. I sometimes wonder whether the Thai people really want tourists at all.

There is one thing that I am pleased about. None of the people I spoke to who are implementing the ban, said that it had been suggested to them that a small payment would relax the enforcement. If this continues to be the case then perhaps the objective is really to reduce the drinking of alcohol by schoolchildren. If so, I applaud the objective but feel that this action is unlikely to have any effect. I expect that, given time, the ban will simply cease to be enforced at all and that once again I will be able to enjoy a Guinness in the afternoon. I hope so!

Day Tripper: The white temple in Chiang Rai

By Heather Allen

I must confess, I have not been to this amazing looking place but a close friend of mine and his friend recently travelled there and I must give full credit to Tim Ludwig for these beautiful photos of what, I was informed, was quite amazing.

The entire complex at Wat Rong Khun is made of white buildings, except, interestingly enough, the toilets and the architect’s personal residence which is covered in gold leaf!

Designed in a modern style and built to a high standard by Chalermchai Kositpipat, this is not your usual temple and one well worth making the trip to Rong Khun village 13 kilometers south of Chiang Rai for. The architect tore down the earlier temple (not an ancient one by any standards) and rebuilt this with a vision to create an entire complex of 9 buildings representing the Ninth Reign spread over 3 Rai. Construction began in 1997.

The ubosot or the consecrated assembly hall is reached by crossing a bridge over the pit of hell. The white color represents the Buddha’s purity, while the glass stands for the Buddha’s wisdom. The small circle before the bridge represents the human world while the large circle with fangs is the mouth of Mara or Rahu, and represents the impurities of the mind or hell. In Hindu mythology, Rahu is a snake that causes eclipses by swallowing the sun or the moon. I must say the hundreds of ghostly white hands reaching up out of the pit are an eerie sight.

The entire complex is riddled with meaning, with each artistic symbol representing some Buddhist thought, from the 16 demons swallowing each other that represent the 16 impurities to the four lotus flowers that represent the four levels of monks that have attained one of the four paths to Nirvana.

Inside the temple all the paintings have golden tones and are quite spectacular. Many of the murals are works in progress and there is even a mural showing 9/11 and the flames of the World Trade Center.

The architect was born in the village and completed his schooling at university in Bangkok, recognized by HM the King for his work on murals in a temple in England, it was His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej that inspired Khun Chalermchai to create this huge masterpiece. A work in progress he has trained numerous disciples (his words) to continue on with the work so that the entire complex is ultimately finished.

Truly an outstanding and remarkable place to visit, it glows in the daylight but is, from what I gather, more beautiful in the moonlight.

Wat Rong Khun is located 13km south of Chiang Rai on Highway 1, or about 3 hours by car from Chiang Mai.