I was interested to read your headline ‘Chiang Mai celebrates Songkran’ in
your current printed edition. Earlier in March Chiang Mai City News reported
that the authorities were bringing in greater safety measures.
I feel it is appropriate to look at the other side of the coin. During the
first 5 main days of this festival there were 255 deaths on the roads and
2,439 people injured in accidents. This was not only an increase on the
previous year but in 2556 Chiang Mai topped the country’s list according to
the National News Bureau of Thailand for both accidents and deaths. The
government had also banned this year water fights from the back of trucks. I
witnessed dozens, maybe hundreds of these fights as I went to and from the
My partner was one of the 2,439 and he ended up in the Sub-ICU Neuro ward of
Suan Dork hospital where on the third day of this festival every bed was
occupied – not all of course due to Songkran but according to a nurse
spokesperson, most of them were. As I left the ward and reached the ground
floor 3 coffins were being delivered. Yesterday I attended two clinics at
that same hospital – one for head injuries and one for facial injuries. The
first was overflowing with injuries mainly from Songkran; the facial clinic
was so full it was impossible to get through the door at one point. One
member of staff who worked there for some years told me it was the busiest
they could remember. I also had occasion to go to a local police station
just outside the city to make enquiries about accident insurance. The car
park contained at least a dozen cars totally beyond repair, most unable to
be driven with their engines smashed to pieces; the motorcycle pound was
heaving with partially or wholly wrecked motorcycles.
While I fully understand and appreciate the religious significance of
Songkran, I fail totally to see how such devastation and loss of human life
and limb can rest happily under the Banyan Tree as the great Buddha awaited
his death. I also wonder how many of those throwing water and getting drunk
and driving crazily adhered to the traditions of this festival by making
merit at their respective temples before taking to the streets.
have right of way
Although I have lived here many years I still get angry whenever I see all those
idiots in cars blocking the way of ambulances. A few days ago again at Phucome
intersection traffic just kept on going because their light was on green and the
ambulance was not allowed through.
I do not know if there is a law regarding this as there is in my home country
(and many others) but if not, it should be enacted and if so, it really should
be enforced. I find it amazing that people do not move out of the way for the
emergency vehicles. Do they not understand that could be themselves in there? Or
their mother or father? Is there no education on this matter?
I do hope that the police and the government take note of this very important
Real or not?
There are many people out there going around asking for money. Charities,
Chinese monks, nuns, students (both from high school and university) and people
asking for money for temples are everywhere. How do I know who is real or not? I
don’t want to be negative and I do want to help people with donations but how do
I know they are real or not? Many of my friends also ask the same question.
I wonder if there is some way Chiang Mai can license these people. An official
license showing that they have been checked out would make me and many others
feel more comfortable in donating.
I am not sure how feasible this is, and of course unlicensed people would be
hard to catch, but if everyone knew that the city was licensing then we would
know who to donate to and who not to donate to.
Why can’t deaf people fly?
I would like to report you something that happened in Chiang Mai. Last week I
went to watch the cricket match at Prem, against this lovely Indian cricket
team, 25 of them came over. They were invited by Prem Cricket to play friendly
games with local teams.
The entire team is deaf, they arrived in Bangkok, with Bangkok Airways tickets,
already purchased, and the airline did not allow them to fly to Chiang Mai
because they are deaf. They cited airline policy for security reasons. They
finally managed to get flights on other airlines, flown in at different times
through a day and a half until finally the entire team managed to arrive. Then
they had to figure out how to get them back to Bangkok after the matches.
How can deaf people be a security risk?
A cricket fan