Culture and clothing
In response to your editorial of last issue I wanted to say I heartily
agree! I think that culture is a lot more than clothing! As someone who
minored in Cultural Anthropology, I can say that culture consists of
numerous different areas, including clothing but also food, language,
religion, festivals, life rituals, ways of doing business, music, art,
architecture, music, etc.
If you put a list of 5 factors (food, clothing, religion, language, and
architecture) to test , Thailand is 100% more traditional in all the other
factors than its neighbour Malaysia, where I’m an American who has lived for
the past two years. While Thais don’t wear their traditional clothes much,
they do eat their traditional food (all the time!), practice their
traditional Buddhism to a very great extent, speak their own language, and
build most of the buildings according to their traditional architecture.
Even condos have Thai touches, and the first time I went in Robinson Mall in
Hat Yai, I got so much culture from it - it’s a THAI mall! Unlike the ones
in Malaysia, which are just replicas of American malls!
Lots of Malays and Indians in Malaysia, on the other hand, do wear their
traditional clothes, but eat mainly at McDonalds and KFC, hardly practice
their religion, speak mainly English, and live in condos and spend their
days at giant office buildings or shopping malls. So I think that, of the
two countries, Thailand has the hands up where traditional culture goes! And
that’s why most Western tourists like Thailand so much better than Malaysia!
Of course, the simple explanation for the difference is that THAILAND HAS
NEVER BEEN A COLONY OF ANY COUNTRY. That’s the main reason for the
preservation of its values and culture! Some of the other nearby countries
which are still traditional (e.g., Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Laos) have been
able to keep those traditions, despite being colonies, because of much
ethnic war and unrest which has prevented the infiltration of too much
international corporate culture. And that is the one thing that could, in
fact, destroy Thai culture in the future, as it has so many others!
And I agree 100% that culture should be real, NOT show off. Show-off culture
doesn’t work, even for tourists...they will be able to tell if it is phony.
Clothing is more important as a variable of culture in some cultures than
others...obviously more important in cultures where religious laws about
modesty are very important and where women have a lower status. The
societies where women have the most subjugated status usually have them
wearing the fanciest clothes as a sort of compensation!
Traditional clothes also change over time...I learnt from a historical novel
recently that Indian saris were, before the British, worn WITHOUT blouses
I do find it strange that Thais don’t wear their longyis and blouses, when
they are so much more comfortable and convenient and practical than an
Indian sari or Muslim outfit. And saris and abayas are definitely NOT
practical! However, each person has the right to choose how they will dress,
provided it’s decent and clean and practical. I am a Western person and I
wear Indian clothes every day! So Thais have as much right to wear what they
want as European tourists do!
Tourists who really would like to see people wearing blouses and
longyis...please go to Myanmar, where they are worn every day by the
majority of people. Or for other traditional clothing, to Malaysia or
anywhere in South Asia or the Middle East. And, if they want to be really
traditional, wear one of the outfits from the 1800s worn in Europe! I bet
Thais would love to see a hoop skirt!
Skywalks around Chiang Mai
I am a native Chiang Mai person and even I must say that sometimes the way that
people behave bothers even me! One instance is the skywalks that are around
town. There is one at Nakorn Ping Hospital, another at Waroros Market. There are
more but the problem is that people do not use them. Perhaps it is not that
people are not willing to use the skywalks but that they are not put in any kind
of useful place.
The intersection at Meechoke would be a very good place for one. There is a lot
of development going on here, with new condos going up on the corner, the Tesco
Lotus that is finished, Meechoke Plaza plus many housing developments. It is
impossible to cross the second ring road at any place because people drive so
fast. I live near there and I must get in my car and drive to get to the Tesco
even though it is only a short distance away, but across the street. I am afraid
of being hit by speeding cars and big trucks.
There are many places like this around Chiang Mai but they have no skywalks and
even very few crosswalks. The lights are not timed for people who want to walk,
only for people who are driving.
There are lights for people to cross the street around the moat but nobody stops
for them. I see the poor tourists come and push the button and think that the
green walk sign means they can walk across the street only to be nearly hit by
people who run the red light. Around the moat seems to be the worst place for
this but other places that have the lights for people to walk are also ignored.
Some day an innocent tourist will be hit by these people who don’t stop for a
Chiang Mai people need to learn to follow the rules better, they need to respect
other people on the road! I know it is a big order but it can be done!
(Editor’s note: Letter translated and edited for clarity)
Re-surfacing the roads
around the moat
I am all for the re-surfacing of the roads in Chiang Mai. In fact, I could start
a list of roads that need re-surfacing. The re-surfacing on Manee Nopparat Road
is certainly a good idea but better traffic management needs to be done. I was
stuck in traffic there the other day as they were re-surfacing one lane near the
Municipal Stadium past Chang Puak Gate.
Traffic was a mess. Cars were trying to squeeze in, move over and get through.
If the police had been there before they started re-surfacing and barred people
from parking in the far left lane then traffic would have flowed much easier. It
would have also been good to have someone directing traffic before the area
being worked on to give people warning. Also, they might want to consider
putting in signs before doing the work to inform people that work will be
underway and when it will start and when it will finish.
These are very simple solutions to ease traffic and wouldn’t even cost very much
money. But the police here do not actually seem that interested in intervening
when the traffic gets out of hand. The Traffic Police might want to consider a
roving patrol of traffic policemen who are dispatched to relieve these kinds of
Fed up in traffic
Status on burned refugee boy
Following our charity dinner on June 1, 2013, many have asked about Chaa Nay
Choo’s progress, so we have created a simple web site with the latest news of
him at: https://sites.google.com/a/chiangmaiheritage.com/chaa-nay-choo/
Please feel free to check it out. In the meantime, we are thinking of doing
another serious event – not sure yet – but it would be a similar size, in
January 2014, no actual date are planned as yet.
Very best wishes
Chaa Nay Choo supporters