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MAIL BAG
 

Why burn?

Dear Editor
I recently spent a few days in a wonderful small bungalow resort in Pai just out of town on the edge of a forested area. The bungalow was a lovely wooden building set back from the garden near the border of the forested area.
I observed an older village lady, perhaps hilltribe but I am not sure, lighting small piles of leaves on fire all along the perimeter inside the forested area. I counted 18 small fires in less than 20 meters of area; leaves, and sticks, each pile emitting a great plume of smoke. Fortunately for me the smoke was headed away from my room but it was still polluting the air. She seemed blissfully unaware or perhaps unconcerned that she was, exactly, part of the problem that causes the annual haze here in the North.
There seemed no real purpose to the burning, the forest is already quite dry, the leaves and twigs would have easily biodegraded. She did not seem to care that not only was it unnecessary but really actually damaging. I am rather surprised she was not afraid of causing a forest fire with her small untended fires.
Rice farmers say they need to burn to clear their fields and this is probably true, I have been told that they don’t have the machinery to plow the rice stubble back under and that to do so is expensive. At least that is somewhat of an explanation. This random stream of fires in a dry forested area seemed pointless. Pointless and polluting. So much for the fire ban.
Signed
Love Pai, don’t love the fires


Fire hotline doesn’t help!

Dear Editor
Last week I phoned the fire hotline to report a fire. I called the hotline 3 times (1784). The first time they gave me another number to call which didn’t exist, the second and third time they hung up on me and the final time they told my maebaan (Thai) to call the fire brigade.
Then I called 053 234 444 and 053 234193 (which were apparently the numbers from last year but someone said they would work) in the early afternoon and was told to call the tourist police.
Who can I report a fire to if the hotline does not work?
Signed
Rachel
Dear Rachel,
Thank you for letting me know about this, I talked to our Mayor about this problem and he said that the two 053 numbers are Municipal numbers but unfortunately the staff do not speak English which is why they referred you to the Tourist Police who do speak English. He apologized for the inconvenience noting that the English language level at the Municipality needs to be raised. He suggested that if you call the Municipal numbers to report a local fire to ask a Thai friend to call for you.
One thing we might consider is seeing if we can work together with the Municipality and the Provincial officials in organizing a hotline in English. Perhaps some English speaking Thai would be willing to field calls from foreigners who, in general, are more likely to report when they see a fire, and then the volunteer pass the information on to the Thai hotline. If anyone can recommend someone or if someone would like to volunteer please let me know and I can help put you in touch with the appropriate people.
The tourist police can be reached on 1155
Regards
Shana Kongmun
Managing Editor


Immigration woes

Dear Editor
A few days ago I went to collect a driving licence renewal. Arriving at 9a.m. I was given a form to complete, my documentation was checked and I went to the next desk, had an eye check, paid my fee (605 baht including 100 for a photograph), then had the picture taken and the six year licence issued. I left the large and airy building at 9.25a.m.to pick up my car conveniently parked nearby.
A day earlier I had to obtain a letter of residency re the licence from the Chiang Mai Immigration Offices. As always they were packed with tense and irritated people, herded together with inadequate seating and ventilation. I handed in my forms and photographs and was told to return in about six or seven hours, which I did -once again fighting my way through the crowds. Cost 500 baht for a slip of paper.
Far worse was the tedium and inconvenience which characterizes any visit there for a retirement visa, 90 day extension or exit visa. Why? No one objects to the formalities or charges or even waiting but surely better accommodation, fresh air, nearby parking and a reasonable service is not too much to ask. A new location, extra staff and a drastic overhaul are urgently needed.
Brian, Chiang Mai
Editor’s response
Dear Brian
We all feel your pain, Chiang Mai Immigration is too small, understaffed, overcrowded and basically a nightmare not only for those who must use it but also, most likely, those who work in it as well. My good friend Pim at CityLife has started an online petition for those who hope someone will listen. https://www.change.org/petitions/demand-government-to-support-chiang-mai-immigration-office.
Regards
Shana Kongmun
Managing Editor


A question for Anchan

Dear Editor,
A suggestion/question for Anchan Vegetarian
I read the Coconut milk story and I have to admit I am still confused. It is 90% saturated fat but the numbers quoted make it seem like that fat is good for our cholesterol levels. Now I am hearing from recently arrived farangs (under a year, like me) that their cholesterol levels have “skyrocketed” up and the cause may be palm oil which is commonly used here by street food vendors and the very economical restaurants. My research shows that it is 86% saturated fat but no one is suggesting that palm oil may be good for you. Is there any way to clarify the good and bad of palm oil? So many of us are at a certain age that we already are on cholesterol level watch but if palm oil is a problem then I for one need to give up ingesting it.
Thanks,
Marilyn
Anchan responds:
Hi,
In saturated fats there is a difference between trans-fats and non-trans fats. This is not legally enforced to indicate on the packaging.
Palm oil has a very high amount of trans-fats and is bad for you.
Coconut oil, if manufactured pure, is low in trans-fats and good for you.
Suggest to your friends to replace all palm oil with rice bran oil, an economical alternative to coconut oil and odourless, tasteless, and their cholesterol will go down at once.
Glad to be of service.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Why burn?

Fire hotline doesn’t help!

Immigration woes

A question for Anchan
 

Note: Letters printed herein in no way reflect the opinions of the editors or writers for Chiang Mai Mail, but are unsolicited letters from our readers, expressing their own opinions. No anonymous letters or those without genuine addresses are printed, and, whilst we do not object to the use of a nom de plume, preference will be given to those signed.
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