This is Thailand: May 2013
For those of you with questions regarding Thailand, Thai culture, history, tourism, laws, rules, food, nightlife, subcultures, dating; generally anything as long as it is relevant, we have a panel of experts ready to respond to all your enquiries.
1. There are so many stray cats in the city. Can I just take one for myself?
Mai (intern): Unlike dogs, cats are actually quite hard to catch in the city because they are always hiding. But if you do manage to catch one of these cute creatures (and you’re absolutely sure it doesn’t belong to someone else), the first thing you should do is take the cat to a vet and get it vaccinated before bringing it back to your home, since cats tend to carry even more diseases than dogs. You should also definitely get your cat sterilised, since cats are very fertile and can produce kittens up to four times a year (and kittens, while cute, only add to the stray cat problem). Neutering or spaying your cat also gives them a chance at a longer, healthier life. That said, your safest bet is probably to adopt from a shelter. The Santisook Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation in Doi Saket has plenty of sterilised and vaccinated animals of all ages waiting for loving homes. Visit www.santisookdogsandcats.org or call Lek at 085 035 5523 for more information.
2. Can you suggest a place to buy high quality, traditional Lanna food?
Kao (intern): Shops aimed at travellers (like the Night Bazaar) tend to be very expensive and the food is sometimes sub-par. For authentic and delicious Thai food and plenty of cool things to buy, check out Kad Luang a.k.a. Warorot Market, the much-loved Lanna market for local Thai people. It’s quite easy to find, on the corner of Chang Klan and Chiang Moi Roads, right near the river, and any red truck can take you there. Kad Luang is famous in Chiang Mai for its size and its variety of real Lanna food, clothing at inexpensive prices and a fun and bustling atmosphere. Kad Luang is open 24 hours a day but in the evening it sells only food, so go early for maximum variety!
3. Where can I take a meditation retreat around Chiang Mai?
Mai (intern): Depending on the duration and the intensity level you can handle, there are several options to choose from. Wat Umong offers Vipassana retreats that require a minimum stay of three days (watumong.org). Wat Doi Suthep offers a wide variety of courses that range from four to 21 days. This is one of the more popular retreats so register early (www.fivethousandyears.org). The most disciplined of all retreats is Wat Ram Poeng (www.watrampoeng.net). The course is a strict 26 days with mandatory silence and no food after noon. Tread carefully though, the monks don’t take kindly to drop outs. If you are a prone quitter, the easiest retreat is probably at Wat Suan Dok, which offers introductory courses on Tuesdays with just a one-night stay (www.monkchat.net). Most of these retreats are run by donation. Participants must bring white clothes or buy them on arrival. If you’re looking for just an hour or two of guided inner peace, there are several yoga studios around the city that offer drop-in meditation classes, such as Wild Rose (www.wildroseyoga.org) and The Yoga Tree (www.theyogatree.com) – just check their schedules online.
4. I have had difficulty communicating and finding the medicines I need at my local pharmacy. Do you have any recommendations?
Hilary: Check out Peera Pharmacy, located steps away from Tha Pae Gate, a few doors down from Black Canyon Coffee on the Walking Street (Ratchadamneon) in the Old City. The pharmacist there speaks excellent English and is extremely helpful, often even more so than a trip to the doctor (at a far cheaper cost). Describe your ailment and she can help you find the proper fix, or ask for a specific product and if it exists in Chiang Mai, she will most likely have it.