This is Thailand

 |  July 1, 2010

For those of you with any questions regarding Thailand, Thai culture, history, tourism, laws, rules, food, nightlife, sub-cultures, dating; generally anything as long as it is relevant,
we have a panel of three experts who will respond to your enquiries.

1. Do you know if there are any women’s football teams in Chiang Mai? Would it be possible to join one?

A Women’s League has been around since 2008. This year it started 7th March – 18th April (first round) and again from 5th June – 17th July. There are eight teams in the Premier League and 8 teams in Division I. For more information, 02 431 5389. There’s also a women’s team that plays out of North Chiang Mai University on the way to Hang Dong. They also play at the municipal stadium.

2. I recently wasted some good money on a denture made by an incompetent local dentist. After I paid an upfront advance the clinic billed me for the balance before the work was even finished. After payment in full the denture still didn’t work. My question is: is there some site or consumer beware forum for expats here, so that frauds like these can be cut out of the herd before causing further damage?

James: is bound to have all sorts of posts on dentistry, but you’ll often find what is good for one is not good for another. Thais and foreigners alike don’t have much consumer support here in Thailand. However, there are consumer protection laws, Google them.

When it comes to dentists, doctors, hospitals, auto mechanics, construction workers, household help, even noodle shops, etc. I usually only use them after I have checked them out with someone who has experience with them. There is a saying here in Thailand, whether you are in a traffic accident, lost in the forest, or dealing with service people. “You are on your own.” Big mistake to pay in full for an item you haven’t received yet. That probably holds true anywhere in the world. Did you ever talk to anyone who had used this ‘incompetent local dentist’ before? If you didn’t, then you are partly to blame. If you did, then it is time for a long talk with the person who made the suggestion. BTW, the saying, ‘Caveat emptor’ works just as well.

3. After all that has been happening in Thailand I really want to read a comprehensive Thai history book, in English, preferably an unbiased, objective book without blatant political agenda.

I haven’t read it but I hear that it’s very good: ‘A History of Thailand’ by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit.

‘Thailand. A Short History’ by David K. Wyatt.

4. What is your advice to me if I want to learn Thai and I want to learn fast?

I’d take two classes at somewhere like AUA, CMU, Payap, including reading/writing and conversation. Two months you should have some basics but your pronunciation will no doubt need work. Watch – you may need heroin or Xanax for this – soap operas (I can’t do this myself) as the language is simple and easy to understand. Speaking Thai all day would help tremendously, get yourself a Thai lover with limited English. Write all new words down (this is how I learned) and shoehorn them into your next conversation. Like this: (Thai friend) “Do you like fish?” (Me) “Yes. And, do you believe in destiny?” People might think you’re mad, but it works.

As to learning Thai fast, they have a saying in my home town of New York City, ‘Forgetaboutit!’ To learn Thai you will need a lot of work, patience, a good teacher, and lots of time. I answered the first question in a column that I wrote for the popular website Women Learn Thai … and some men too. Here is the link to ‘Ten Steps to Learning Thai’. Number 9 is ‘Never give up.’

5. Do you know of any of natural remedies here to help me sleep; I have a noisy neighbour problem?

There are some herbs like St John’s Wort that promote sleep. You can get that at most big chemists (definitely at the place bottom of Ratchadamnoern Road.) You might also try the Chinese medicine shops in Warorot market.