The Kindness of Neighbours
In my late 70s and with limited mobility, suddenly being obliged to move out of my house near Nong Hoi, I panicked about finding another suitable place in Chiang Mai. A dear friend suggested that I manifest the perfect little house for me, so I visualised this cottage in Baan Bo Hin, and have been very happily settled in for over three years. But eventually, the owner wanted to sell my darling home and kept sending people round to see the property.
All my neighbours could see that I was totally devastated and I prayed to God to solve the impasse. Then I discovered that my sweet, kind neighbours and friends had not been idle on my behalf, and had persuaded the Village Chief to ensure somehow that I could continue renting and so stay here as long as I lived. He bought this charming house on my behalf, rather than let it be sold to outsiders, strangers “who might make trouble” said my next door neighbour and helper, whom I refer to as my nang fa as she looks after me so beautifully. Accepting me and my dog as members of the community they made me (the only farang in the village) overjoyed. Now, thanks to the overwhelming benevolence I have found, we can relax in the security of being loved to the end of our days.
Chafed at the Chinese
I’ve lived and worked in Thailand for more than 24 years, loving Chiang Mai as my jewel and best place on earth since 1990. The greater danger for Chiang Mai (and the North of Thailand) is the impact of a single nation on another. How many millions of Chinese are supposed to soon travel (or establish) in Chiang Mai? How big is Chiang Mai town? What about the impact of these millions of Chinese travellers on Chiang Mai’s cultural and peaceful city, image? What about other travellers feelings when being surrounded by Chinese everywhere in Chiang Mai, from their hotel breakfast restaurant to their bedroom at night (90 percent of Chinese were occupying my hotel last Feb), with them all day at temples, attractions, restaurants, public transportation, on city streets, shops. How about restaurants and shop vendors, willing to make more money on them by trying even to change the festival calendars of Thailand and Chiang Mai just to please Chinese tourists?
I went to a famous newly rebuilt riverside restaurant (Tha Nam relocated) that was full of Chinese tourists and for those Loy Krathong was organised, with readymade Krathongs offered to them to be sent from their pier on the Ping River, in the middle of February! Loy Krathong is a fantastic festival, full of meaning and to me the most attractive in Thailand, but when it is organised in February just to please Chinese tourists, it is destroying the good feeling and respect I had for it. More distortions to come I am sure to satisfy the appetite of these tourists.
Chiang Mai will for sure soon lose all of its charm (already partly gone), this is for sure, and the worse is that because some are making a lot of money out of it, it will take time before Chiang Mai authorities take measures to regulate it. (Remember Bali: a visa was necessary some years ago to avoid mass tourism and ensure the protection of its cultural heritage and way of life of its citizens.) Not talking about all the Chinese coming by car and by bikes overland from China! Chiang Mai’s beautiful old days are soon to be just forgotten.
Personally, I have nothing against Chinese people and nation, but what I want to point out is that such a large country having its doors and borders wide open to other countries such as Thailand and to small areas like the north of Thailand, Chiang Mai in particular, will completely destroy the unique character, attraction and cultural interest of this place, including the traditional kind manners and habits of its inhabitants. It will also destroy the interest of Chiang Mai for other worldwide travellers willing to catch up with the authenticity of its cultural heritage and the thousand years old way of life of its citizens. Many restaurants owners and store merchants in Chiang Mai have already lost their kind and unique Thai way of treating the customers, now just thinking about the money they can take, the quality of the Thai food served has also becoming very poor and its unique taste has faded away…
[Re: Bangkok Noir, March 2014:] Just finished reading “Missing in Yangon” and looking forward to reading [Christopher G. Moore’s] latest book. I am a big Vincent Calvino fan.
Best comment from the interview: “Moore believes comprehension of the jai expressions is a porthole into Thai culture and the changes it is undergoing. ‘Kreng jai is a good example,’ notes Moore. ‘A little bit of awe and fear: it’s essential to the whole patronage system, the whole system of obedience, to respect authority without question. What we are seeing now in Thailand is an erosion of the whole kreng jai system. And once you erode a crucial cornerstone of a culture, it’s going to have political, economic and social ramifications.’”
“Question authority!” “What? All authority?” “Yep, all authority!”
Rolling in Rubbish
This [Dirty Litter Secrets, March 2014] is a terrific, well-done article that covers many aspects of this issue. One detail about the city’s current program is missing: the capacity and the cost of the Hod landfill and the ultimate safe disposal and recyclability of garbage. Otherwise, wouldn’t it be nice if we could recycle Chiang Mai’s air!
At the night weekend and daily markets, I never see trash containers to throw stuff. There could be one for bottles and one for trash. At the flower festival there were all kinds of food vendors and two big garbage bins and by the second day they were full to overflowing. I don’t get it. You eat and have food or trash or water bottles; if there’s no place for them people just throw them on the ground. So, could there be a few more containers for trash, please? Thank you.
You just have to look in the soi behind the Phucome Hotel, a tour group hotel. The back of it is a garbage pit and the smell hits you every time you drive past.