• 27 Years
I like to read your magazine but finding it is difficult. I hope you will be able to send me some copies of your magazine to help me pass the time. Plus I am looking for a pen pal, please try to help me. My only contact with the outside world at present is by reading copies of your magazine. I feel I don’t have anybody inside or outside the prison that I can speak to and I feel very alone. I really don’t know what to do. I can only hope for kindness to help me through this difficult time.
[Ed. Citylife sends a copy to every prison in Thailand with a foreign population monthly. Unfortunately, not all issues get through to the inmates. Writing to prisoners gives them hope, encouragement, and much needed contact with the outside world. If you would like to write to Mustafa (from Turkey) his address is: Mustafa Ozdemir, Klong Prem Prison, Building 6, Jatujak, Bangkok, 10900]
• Pistol Shooting
A lovely piece by James [Austin Farrell] in October’s ‘This is Thailand’ concerning WETV. Along with a number of other Chiang Mai expats, I signed up for WETV when it had BBC World, CNN, good Australian sports channels and was worth the money. It now has no news from the UK or the USA (NO you rednecks _ Fox is NOT a news channel!), but does have world news from France, Germany, Italy, Australia and the Middle East. Strange!
It does have three sports channels, which James described perfectly _ although he didn’t add that after you’ve been viewing the Lithuanian Blind Table Tennis qualifiers for an hour and got REALLY interested, WETV will suddenly change the transmitted channel and you find yourself halfway thru a rerun of the 1996 Olympic pistol shooting quarter finals.
We have written, emailed and visited WETV in an attempt to get some reasonable programming, but of course, totally in vain.
Chiang Mai Charlie
• Me, me, me
What an interesting contrast in comments by the first two respondents to ‘What has been your life’s biggest obsession?’ in the ‘City Talk’ section of the November issue.
The Dutchman responded, ‘Fighting my insignificance’. The young female Thai teacher responded, ‘I am obsessed with myself’.
There is huge scope for contemplation of these responses.
• The Garbage Issue
Thoroughly enjoyed the November issue, great job by you and your staff.
When I skimmed the front cover stories and saw the ‘Collectors’, I immediately thought of those wonderful guys who drive around on motorbikes with big carts behind them sifting through garbage cans and collect recyclable materials – plastic bottles, cans, anything that is reusable and salable. I jumped to page 30 only to see what the story was really about. Anyway, how about a story on those who make a living recycling? They do worthy work and help the environment of our fair and overloaded (with garbage) city. And wouldn’t it be fun for you, as editor, to assign Mr. Farrell to follow these guys around for a day or two to get the story?
Additionally, Robin Petre’s story on Don Wilcox and his work with the disabled was wonderfully written, sensitive and heart warming. Don is a true gem of a person. Thanks so much for recognising his contribution to Chiang Mai.
John Gunther, AUA Chiang Mai
As a retired British expat, currently living with my Thai wife in Khon Kaen, I recently embarked upon a quest to find, photograph and document all 80 or so of Thailand’s remaining steam locomotives, having been an avid fan of these wonderful machines since childhood! Hoping to make the road trip to Chiang Mai, one of my all-time favourite places in Thailand, around the New Year, for what has almost become an annual pilgrimage, I started researching this aspect of Thailand’s industrial heritage. I was intrigued to discover that Chiang Mai was recently once home not just to one, but five of these iron giants! Most of your readers will have probably seen loco number 340 (a Swiss SLM Winterthur 2-8-0 built in 1912 ex RhB 118 _ one of 18 that were purchased in 1926 & 1927 by Thailand, when the Rhatische Bahn electrified their rail network _ in use on the hilly Uttaradit-Chiang Mai line 1927 _ 1953) now standing outside Chiang Mai’s railway station.
But, what happened to all these others?
Chiang Mai Technical College used to have an ex-Lampang Sugar Mill 0-4-2T loco, that has not been seen for years & couldn’t be found in 2006. Where did it go? The old Japanese loco (a 1936 Kawasaki 2-6-0 loco number 744, ex-JNR C 56.53) & 2 old coaches that used to be on the road to Mae Jo for several years back in 1992, seem to have disappeared without trace! Chiang Mai millionaire, Mr Lim was reputed to have bought two old locos for restoration & preservation, way back in October 1980 (number 338 – another 1913 Swiss SLM Winterthur 2-8-0 loco, ex-RhB 122 and number 228 – a 1925 American Baldwin 4-6-2 loco) – were they ever restored, what happened to them & where are they now? Chiang Mai may be the terminus of the Northern Line, but it seems also to be a veritable ‘black-hole’ where the last of Thailand’s massive old Iron-Horses, simply disappear without trace! Then there is the Orenstein & Koppel loco, built in 1901, once at Lampang Trade School…But, then that is another story!
To be continued…? If any of your readers have any information about the fate of any of these locos, I will be very pleased to hear from them.
[Ed. If any readers have information to pass on, please send it to [email protected]]