A conversation with someone I recently
met as well as the letter to the editor regarding the possibility of
attractive pedestrian overpasses got me to thinking about some of the
challenges that Chiang Mai faces in marketing itself for its historical
value and yet still maintain public modern services. The Municipality has
made a good start by burying the cables at Tha Pae Gate, an expensive
process I know and one that requires much money and planning between the
city, the water department, the electricity, phones and cable before it can
However, there are smaller and less expensive projects that can be
implemented while we are awaiting the long process of organization. One such
project would be a simple power washing of buildings in the downtown area.
The removal of buildup of years of grime and dirt would brighten the city
instantly and wouldn’t cost that much.
The removal of unsightly and broken down phone booths that block the
sidewalks wouldn’t go amiss either. Nearly everyone has a mobile phone these
days, I can’t imagine they are in use and some of them are just empty boxes
anymore. Pull the boxes down and free up the sidewalk.
Pass and enforce laws regarding signage. Ugly signs blocking the streets,
even the temporary ones for election campaigns are unsightly and mar the
beauty of the city as well as cause a hazard for anyone attempting to walk
down the street. Implement laws that require businesses to keep their signs
off the sidewalks and at a safe height. Remove the ugly billboards on the
streets, they are small and they are up high but the posts are in the middle
of the sidewalks and they are unsightly and do not blend in with the city.
Finally, zoning regulations need to be enforced or enacted if they are
missing. While some local residents grumble about the enforcement of closing
times and drinking ages, for the people who live near these bars and clubs,
this is a welcome development. Screaming drunken people at 3 a.m. near one’s
home is never a good thing and bars opening up with loud music in
residential neighborhoods should be prohibited.
Nobody can argue that enforcing underage drinking is bad and JJ Market’s
recent agreement to enforce closing times, underage drinking, no drugs and
no weapons policies should go far to turning that unruly corner into
something a bit more pleasant for everyone. The one thing that needs to be
remembered is that this new direction did not pop up out of the middle of
nowhere and it is not one person’s attempt to enforce morality on others.
This came about as concerned residents saw their neighborhoods being overrun
with loud bars and even louder drunks.
People speaking up for their community
is something that Thailand needs more of and is something that I, for one,
am glad to see happening on a more regular basis.