Your Say

 |  January 30, 2009

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Two-Tier Toe Rags

In the November issue of Citylife it was stated that Chiang Mai Zoo management “were still undecided about the cost of foreign admission” to their new aquarium. We all knew this actually meant “how much more do we charge farang than Thais?”

So I went to the Zoo ticket office to find out for myself. These are the prices I was given.

Admission to Zoo:
Thai adult 50 baht, farang 100 baht. Thai child 10 baht, farang child 50 baht.

Thai adult 290 baht, farang 520 baht. Thai child 190 baht, farang child 390 baht.

Sky Train:
Thai adult 70 baht, farang 150 baht. All children 50 baht.

I left without inquiring about the cost to see the pandas!

Can zoo management publicly justify why it discriminates against farang, even farang children?

I have correspondence from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (Bangkok) in which they describe this pricing discrimination as ‘unscrupulous’. But what is TAT doing to change the offensive and wide-spread practice?

I do note that TAT does not alert potential visitors to Thailand about this form of discrimination.
During a recent meeting I had with Khun Chalermsak of TAT Chiang Mai, he expressed surprise at the pricing disparity at the Zoo and at Doi Suthep. Khun Chalermsak and I discussed possible ways to eliminate the pricing discrimination. The Night Safari is also ‘unscrupulous’, but at least I was able to negotiate entrance there at Thai rates after showing my Thai drivers license. (There is inconsistency from place to place about acceptance or non-acceptance of various documents claimed to circumvent discrimination at the entrance gate).

The only fair way is to charge the same admission for Thais and farang. Otherwise the zoo and other places that discriminate against farang will continue to taint this country as one that desperately needs foreign visitors, yet treats them with contempt once they are here.
I am surprised so many farang, organisations that support farang and the Thai community in general continue to accept this form of discrimination, seemingly without objection or action.

Ron Lister

Japan: Too Late for Apologies

Having recently returned from abroad, I am catching up on all the back-issues of magazines.

I was very interested to read David Hardcastle’s thought provoking article about Japan and the many people wanting Japan to say “Sorry.” It is now sixty three years since the end of the Second World War. If Japan had wanted to apologise, I think they have had sufficient time and have not done so, therefore it can be assumed that they will never apologise.

This is all about the ridiculous Asian concept of ‘Losing face’. The rulers of Japan cannot admit to their own people that they were fed a pack of lies, about who was right and who was wrong during the Second World War. Therefore I think it is time everyone realised that it is futile to think an apology will ever be forthcoming.

On a lighter note I think that an apology should be forthcoming from Japan for inflicting Karaoke on the rest of the world.

Anthony Sneddon

Who’s at the Wheel when I’m Dying?

I have only been a Chiang Mai resident for two years and the suggestion I am about to put forward may already have been covered.

Can Citylife explain how the ‘ambulance’ system functions?

E.g. What are those speeding ‘pick-ups’ all about? Who/what owns them? Who funds them? Are the drivers trained medics? What is their motivation in risking their lives, and those of other road users, in speeding to an accident scene? What is in it for them? It seems to be competitive; who is competing with whom?

What is their connection with hospitals? (We hear they receive a commission for delivering a patient to a hospital.) Who are they in radio contact with? What is their connection with the police? Is it all really so benevolent, or are the rewards substantial?

I often see very young teenagers (perhaps 15-17 years of age) in the passenger seat. Why is this so? Is there a ‘merit making’ aspect to all of this?

It seems that some hospitals have their own ambulances. What is the relationship between these ambulances and the ‘pick-ups’?

If I’m involved in a road accident, who/what is likely to arrive to attend to me? Is there a way of guaranteeing prompt and professional assistance at the accident scene?

What the hell is it all about?


Phucome Pollution

I am a long-term fan of yours, as your magazine supports environmental programmes to make our city a better place for all. With burning season fast approaching and worries about deteriorating air quality, I wish to draw attention to a commercial establishment that pollutes the air all year long. It is the Chiang Mai Phucome Hotel, which emits black fumes from its rooftop smokestack on a daily basis. On Jun 11, for example, one hour of smoke was observed, from 7 – 8 a.m. What is being burned? How can this practice be stopped?

In addition, the hotel’s handling of its waste is unsatisfactory, the unsightly garbage attracts rats, behind the building on Soi 3.

A concerned citizen

Wake Up Pollution Hotline

I’m now in year two of residence at Hillside Four, and happy to be living here.

I noticed last year from my overlooking balcony in early morning that the semi-rural cluster of houses below are burning rubbish during late cool to early hot seasons.

On Jan 10th, and again on the 14th at seven a.m., I observed and smelled smoke coming from the waste ground area just behind the Legend Spa on Huay Kaew Road. In my opinion and experience, even if someone who understood English were on duty on the new Pollution Hotline at this hour of the day, I don’t believe I could describe the ‘burn site’ adequately for someone to get there and do something before they put the fire out.

The burning has occurred at other sites in the rural community in the past, usually closer to the housing cluster. There is no way I could describe the location of these houses and give directions to them, so that someone could ‘dash out’ and arrest the buggers. Again, as a retired civil servant, I know the government don’t work between six and eight a.m., right?

So, what to do? I’m writing to you, and this at least it gets the nagging distress out of my mind.

Speaking of enforcement of laws and regulations, there is one Thai government agency that seems to be doing a great job, The Food and Drug Administration. In my 15 years in country, I have read of innumerable occasions where this agency has acted to remove harmful, dangerous, or just plain placeboic products, and ensure that food is fit to eat. Bravo for the FDA!

Franklin Dumoulin

Shelling Out to See Fish

As always, your last edition was full of interesting articles.

The one about Chiang Mai Zoo/Aquarium, in particular, caught my attention, especially the list of entrance fees at the end.

Last time I was at the zoo, I tried to get a straight answer from them about entrance fees for Thai residents as opposed to foreigners: must they pay tourist prices or are they entitled to Thai prices since they are resident?

As you know, it is normal in many countries for residents to be treated as citizens in the matter of fees since such people live in the country long term and hopefully make a substantial contribution, not least economically. Certainly retirees, like me, do: I have spent far more than I like to think of buying and furnishing a condo here and continue to import and spend money.

I notice that hotels here, for example, often offer special deals in the papers…not available to foreigners, but to ‘Thai Residents’, so it seems that they agree that those living here long term, instead of just for a holiday, should be treated, for this purpose, as citizens rather than tourists flush with holiday yen or dollars at a good exchange rate.

Perhaps you might get a clearer answer than I did about Chiang Mai Zoo/Aquarium’s official policy…and the justification for it, if there is one!

Interestingly, the person with me, who was also resident, but not white…paid…you guessed it….the Thai entrance fee!

Thanks and regards,
A Fish Out Of Water