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XII No.14 - Sunday July 14  - Saturday July 27, 2013


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Update by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
MAIL BAG
 

For whom The Olde Bell tolls?

Dear Editor,
“It tolls for thee!”
John Donne, who wrote (some of) those memorable words in 1624, might just have been looking down on Loi Kroh Road on June 30th when The Olde Bell landlord Pedr Fawkes rang time for the very last time.
Seven years hard labour by Pedr (the Welsh version of ‘Peter’) and his wife Khun Beer (really!) came to an end when neither they - nor their intending purchaser - could negotiate with the owner of the building over the increased deposit demanded, nor the inevitable, sizeable rental increase.
This overly ambitious attitude of property owners (and I’m being really polite here) is the reason that this particular bell “tolls for thee”. If you are interested in establishing a business in rented premises anywhere, but especially in Chiang Mai, beware! Rapidly rising rentals has been the death knell of countless small businesses here over the years, and Thai tenants are just as vulnerable as we farangs.
All too often, negotiations stall at a very early stage with the hopeful tenant being told: “that’s the deal, take it or leave it.” This is less painful for a new business being planned, but is agony to those like Pedr and Beer who must shut up shop and get out after investing 7 years of their lives, virtually 7 days a week, with nothing to show for it but experience and countless friends.
An astonishing number of those friends, many from other nations, made a pilgrimage to The Olde Bell in its closing days, and there were some moving farewells.
Lots of other things were moving too. The pool table, fridges, cookers, TVs, surplus stock, even the actual old bell itself steadily vanished out of the door, leaving a modest fund for the Fawkes family to at least enjoy a short, well-earned break.
The regulars’ bar top topic of the last week consisted almost exclusively of “where do we go now” questions, with remarkably few answers in this city, crammed as it is with bars and restaurants. That in itself is a fine accolade for the unique appeal that Pedr and Beer had created in a location which even they admit had mixed blessings. Yes, Loi Kroh is central, less expensive than the Nimmanhemin area and a healthy mix of expats and tourists.
On the downside, The Olde Bell along with its equally excellent but very different neighbour Chez Marco, was regarded as one of the few “polite addresses” in a street known more for its bar girls than the bars themselves. A small number of hen-pecked western husbands were actively discouraged from the street by their western wives a while ago, and took a certain portion of business with them. This was a shame, but happily had very little impact on takings compared with some disappointing tourist high seasons and the effect on expats of an insanely high baht and falling dollars and pounds.
So as the regulars stumble around, looking for pastures new, what will happen to the premises which have appealed to so many for so long? Well, if long experience of this fair city serves us well, we shall see one of 4 different scenarios:
1. The building will stay empty for so long that weeds grow around the front and the roof starts to fall in.
2. A brightly optimistic foreigner with little idea of real local values or pitfalls will breeze in and splash the cash to try to replicate another real British pub.
3. The building owner will re-open the business themselves, make a total sausage hash of it and rapidly fail. The place then reverts to options 1 or 2 above.
4. It will be sold to a brightly optimistic Thai. They ring out the old and ring in the new with groundbreaking new attractions such as massage parlour, karaoke (complete with ‘lady drinks’ menu without prices) and traditional Thai kantoke dinners where you sit on the floor eating sticks, grass and bits of gristle.
In other words, don’t hold your breath!
And what will happen to two of the most successful hosts we have seen around here? After their well-earned break, Pedr may return to teaching, which will be our loss and academia’s gain. But a little bird tells me that those homeless, wandering regulars may yet be saved by the bell. There’s a rumour that a phoenix may yet arise from the ashes.
Let’s hope we can ring out some good news soon, eh?
Bill Sykes


Safety, Thai style

Dear Editor,
Although I am Thai, sometimes even I wonder. I took this photo today waiting at the stop light. Notice the low safety standards on both the motorbike to the right and the truck to the left. Do the police do nothing when they see these things?
Signed,
Safety conscious


Litter on Doi Suthep

Dear Editor
Yesterday morning I took a walk up Doi Suthep. I don’t’ think there has been one place in Thailand that I have visited yet that did not have rubbish/garbage strewn. I will never get used to it.
Why are there no rubbish/garbage bins? And why, just because there are none, would anyone just throw their rubbish/garbage on the ground? Particularly a local beauty spot.
Plus, this leads to an important temple!
It’s a disgrace. When will people learn not to litter?
Signed,
Disgusted with rubbish


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

For whom The Olde Bell tolls?

Safety, Thai style

Litter on Doi Suthep

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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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