Ten Years ago
Chiang Mai chugged along through another month of monsoon in September. The banks of the Ping brimming to alarming levels – will the foreign cemetery be swept away again? Songteaws a thorn in everyone’s side – maybe we should set up a bribery fund for the policemen in front of Kad Suan Keaw to actually do their job…Jet planes vibrating the city with their demonic flight patterns – has Chiang Mai become an airforce playground with no regard for schools, hospital and homes?
The famous Chang Peuk (white elephant) Fountain that mysteriously disappeared into some Ex-Lord Mayor’s back yard appears to be in the process of being reinstated. Not the original, unfortunately, but a new replica. Is this a sign of remorse or another election tactic? Whatever its guise, it will be welcome back by residents who have not forgotten this landmark. We hope that the governor will continue to support new and important projects such as the founding of the Y2K Solution Committee. I am sure that we have all read with shame that Thailand is one of the last outposts with so few Y2K solutions. Still, things are really looking up. A massive building appears to be growing out of the ground by the Airport Plaza, cranes that disappeared along with condominiums are making a welcome reappearance on our skyline (though this does not extend to condominiums) and things are happening. There is a buzz in the air.
Tourists are few and far between; causing moans and groans among the travel industry. Although it’s time the travel companies gave something back to the environment and culture they so blatantly exploit. How many times have we seen tour guides litter their Styrofoam boxes around a park or yet another guide shouting to lost tour members in a quiet temple compound? Or worst of all, and unforgivably, try following some of these ‘guides’ as they mumble some mumbo jumbo that has no reference to any known facts whatsoever. “Smoking opium is a courtesy when you visit a village, it is showing respect for the elders.” Huh?
However, in spite of all of our inadequacies, the fact remains that most Chiang Mai residents feel it to be a privilege to live here. The cost of living is cheap – and don’t begin to moan about what it was five years ago, it’s called inflation – weather is perfect whether it rains or shines, people are more than friendly as so many tourists and residents can attest, and it’s a great city to be in. The driving though is something I will gladly admit my countrymen fail miserably in but with an ex-Minister of Transportation once being quoted as saying, “I don’t see the point of driving tests.” Are we really that surprised?