People in Thailand who enjoy late night nibbles will be mortified to discover that Police have closed a fashionable restaurant because they claim its a brothel. Obviously they fail to understand the nuances of an elegant dining experience. Gourmets would flock to this Chiang Mai place hoping to excite a jaded palate with a fresh experience created by the restaurant's Mama San.
Chiang Mai is famous for its spicy food especially the Lanna sausage.
The story from City News Chiang Mai:
September 19, 2016
CityNews – A secret brothel posing as a late night restaurant with ‘beautiful waitresses’ was raided by police on Sunday night in the early hours of the morning.
On September 18, police entered the Bang San 1 Bar on Charoenrat Road, as part of a series of planned raids against illegal brothels in the city.
They discovered that the restaurant that served late night food and had ‘beautiful waitresses’ serving drinks was in fact a front for a prostitution service they offered.
Patrons could pay 1500 to 2000 baht to take a woman home with them, with the bar receiving 500 baht each time.
Police arrested three owners, Paitoon Angkaprechased, Suchaya Tammachai and Atchara Kutkaew along with the women providing services to men. The women arrested were of both Thai and foreign nationality, including a number of illegal immigrants.
The bar has now been closed and those arrested are awaiting prosecution.
Wooden Indians were once so common in Hang Dong (a suburb of Chiang Mai famous for making fake antiques) that they outnumbered people. Now their population has been devastated, only a few remain. Not long from now they will probably have disappeared completely. While there is still time, Private Tye has (Fenimore Cooper style) decided to document the history of these vanishing statues.
Decades ago Hang Dong established an furniture industry based on recycling wood. In those days most of the local villagers lived in houses made of teak. Enterprising builders persuaded the villagers that houses made of cheap concrete blocks were much better. So the teak houses started to come down and be replaced by hideous concrete structures that were hot as hell and had rising damp. The lumber from the demolished houses went to Hang Dong. There was soon a thriving furniture industry with Hang Dong supplying local demand, demand from Bangkok and a large overseas market. This was not surprising, because Hang Dong was the only place in the world with a supply of teak. What was surprising was that this teak furniture sold for less than the furniture in Department stores, which was made of plastic sheets, low grade steel, and fibreboard and held together with staples. Sadly, the teak houses were soon gone and, as Thailand's teak forests had been completely cut down twenty years earlier, that was the end of the furniture industry in Hang Dong. Valiant attempts to keep the industry going by making furniture out of pond weed seem to have failed.
Fortunately, there was another source of timber. Along the side of Thai roads you would find lots of self seeded trees, especially the Saman tree (Janjaree in Thai), and many of these grew to considerable size. These trees are hated by the Department of Highways and local authorities because they provide shade and encourage pedestrians to use the roads. Saman wood is soft and useless for making furniture, it can, however, be used to make large wooden statues.
The first of these were fake Buddhas and large statues of girls giving the “wai” (the traditional Thai greeting, now falling into disuse). Corrupt local officials and small town gangsters loved these. Wooden politeness was just their style, and at one time there was not a racketeer in Thailand who did not have two wooden "Wai" girls on either side of this front door. Then suddenly “Wai” girls were out and wooden Indians were in. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of them. Standing in shops, riding around on the back of trucks, queuing up at the local noodle stall. So where did they come from?
Wooden Indians started when Columbus “discovered” America. Unlike the Vikings, who had “discovered” America hundreds of years earlier, Columbus was a useless navigator and did not know where he was. He thought he was in India, so he called the native Americans “Indians”. The name stuck and even the British, when they ruled India with millions of real Indians, still called the American natives “Indians”. So, why are they made of wood? Native Americans were the first people to smoke tobacco, traders purchased tobacco from them and brought it back to London. Shop keepers put life sized wooden Indians outside their shops to show that they sold tobacco (because it was difficult to get a real native American to stand outside the shop in London's rain). It was just like Instagram, a way of communicating with people who have not learned to read.
By 1800 most people in Britain had learned to read and the wooden Indians disappeared from London. Nevertheless, this was not the end of them, because they became popular in 19th Century America because of the low literacy rate. That right, in the East of the country they were putting wooden Indians in front of tobacconists while in the the West they were exterminating the native Americans. Wooden Indians disappeared not because they were a sick genocide joke, but because of the modern non-smoking policies. Although they were gone from the tobacconist, they became highly prized as “folk art” by the American bourgeoisie. With decades of experience making fake Asian art, producing Wooden Indians was a perfect export business for Hang Dong's craftsmen.
The question is, why have Americans stopped buying fake folk art which mocks the victims of genocide and was used to sell a reputedly dangerous substance to an illiterate population? Private Tye has no answer to this.
Some of you may have noticed very large plants sticking out of the ground near your shopping complex. These plants are called “trees” and we are going to tell you how they grow.
A tree begins life as a seed in a pod found by a sapling grower. The seed is taken out of the pod by the sapling grower who puts it in a plastic bag full of good soil and Monsanto fertilizer. The bag is watered and placed in the shade. Soon the seed grows into a sapling which is about 50 cm high, it is now ready to begin the first of it journeys.
The sapling is sold to a group of beneficent environmentalists from town who have hired a mini-van to go out into the country. After stopping for a nice lunch they arrive at the tree planting place and take some selfies. Then, they get a spade, and some Monsanto fertilizer, and plant a couple saplings (and take more selfies). Then, its off to the refreshments tent and a few more selfies. Sometimes, if they belong to a really good organisation, they will have a photographer who takes the selfies for them and gets them published in the Bangkok Pest. They all feel happy that they have had a nice day in the country and saved the planet at the same time. Then its back to town with a stop for a nice dinner on the way. The selfies that are not published in the Pest can be posted on facebook to show everybody what wonderful people they are to care so much for the environment.
Thing is, if the trees are planted in the dry season they will soon die from lack of water. If they are planted in the rainy season they will soon be covered in ivy which will choke them to death. Strange that you never seen any selfies of townies going back to water, or remove the ivy from, the trees they have planted. That's because they don't do it, and so, all the sampling die. Never mind, a new group of beneficent townies will soon be on their way and the sapling vendors will sell them a new set of trees to plant in the place the old ones that died. Of course, these will also die. However, occasionally, one in a thousand of these saplings survives and grows into a mature tree. It is then ready to make its second journey
Once mature, the tree will soon be spotted by a tree marketer. This kind soul will rescue the tree from the ground. He sends his giant earth mover and flat-bed. Up comes the tree, onto the flat bed, and off the the tree market. At the tree market, trees stand in line, living off water and Monsanto fertilizer, waiting for a buyer. Sometimes they have to stand here for years but eventually a friendly shopping complex owner will come to visit and, if the tree is a pretty one, it will get bought and start off on its next journey.
Back onto the flat-bed and off to the shopping complex where a nice hole, full of Monsanto fertilizer, is waiting for it. Into the hole, a few bits of wood to prop it up, and job is done. The tree has fulfilled it destiny which is to cast shade over parked cars and shoppers. Eventually, the the tree will produce seed pods which will drop on the floor of the car park. Some of these will be picked up by wealthy sapling growers on their way home after buying some fashionable Timberland clothes.
It appears that happiness is spreading amongst the toilets of Chiang Mai. We noticed our first happy toilet at a Chiang Mai temple three months ago, now happy toilets are starting to appears at the far ends of the province. On the old road from Chiang Mai to Bangkok we found this toilet near Li. The road is little used since Highway 1 was completed, the petrol station where we stopped at had a desolate air. The convenience shop had closed, the auto repair sheds were abandoned and even the pumps were rusty. However, the toilet was as clean as ever and a new sign told us that it was a happy toilet.
The sign proclaimed: “Clean toilet. Standard service. Suggestions, complaints, information phone 1614”. Private Tye, eager to know why this toilet was so happy, phoned them up; but all that our reporter got was a phone robot that went round in circles. The mystery remains.
So, with Thai people now so miserable these days, what really does makes the Thai toilets so happy? Well, a toilet does not mind getting dumped on from someone above, if Thai employees had the same attitude they would be a lot happier. Also, what goes down the bowl is not significantly different from what somebody puts in their mouth if they get their lunch from a Thai franchised convenience store. Another thing worth considering is that although they are happy, none of these toilets are equipped with the new red Thaksin toilet bowls.
Private Tye has done some statistics, using massive amounts of data (two observations) and the most sophisticated techniques (a linear projection). We discovered that by the year 2020 every toilet in Thailand will be happy. Gives you something to think about.
Residents of Chiang Mai will remember the robocop that stood facing Nawarat Bridge. A fine figure, his uniform immaculately pressed, his gloves brilliant Omo white, his mechanical arm continuously rising in salute to the passing motorists. Private Tye has been seeking an interview with a police automaton for months, but most have disappeared. All we could find was this fibreglass dummy on the highway near Tak, and he was totally unresponsive.
Yes, the Nawarat automaton has gone along with most of the robocops that protected the cities and streets of the North. Its a sad end to a once proud force. The robocops were founded as an elite group of “untouchables”, impossible to bribe or corrupt in any way. In addition, they were happy to work 24 hours a day for a very small salary.
Many a time Private Tye's editor was crossing Narawat bridge on the way to Tescos when the automaton reminded him he was breaking the law. When the robocop came into view, our editor would exclaim “Oh, I do not have my passport with me at all times” and his SUV would be swung into a screeching U-turn. As a result he never ran the risk of being caught during a police raid on the Tesco breakfast cereal aisle.
The robocops, undoubtedly, did more deter crime than their human counter parts, but they have fallen victim to modern police management practices. Police academies throughout the world used to teach their students that their job would be to prevent crime. Now its a numbers game, how many arrests? how many convictions? So now the policy is: wait till the crime is committed and then catch the criminal. And this is where the robocops came up badly – they never arrested anybody. So, now they are being replaced by cheap fibreglass dummies.
Another problem was that the robocops wore real uniforms with real pockets. So, there was nothing to stop a rich, totally plastered, drunk driver (who had just run over some students) from stuffing 500 baht notes in a robocop's shirt pocket to make him look the other way. The new dummies do not have pockets and are, therefore, less corruptible. That is, if you discount any possible bid tampering for the supply of fibreglass dummies.
The relationship between dummy Police and “inactive posts” is intriguing. We all know that when a policeman is caught doing something naughty he is transfered to an inactive post. Foreign journalists have long speculated about where these inactive posts are located. One journalist even suggested there was a Ministry of Inactive Posts hidden somewhere in the jungle. Actually, the inactive posts are hidden in plain sight, they are at every police road block. The dummies are there to make sure that the police manning the blocks are truly inactive.
While police road blocks are manned with dummies, it is a different story with army road blocks. A female reporter with Private Tye was stopped near the Thai Burma border recently. The soldier asked to see her car book (nang suer rot) so she handed over her Mitsubishi car service book (koo mer rot) and explained to the soldier that he really did not need to look at it because she had had the oil changed only last week. He was a bit peeved, he wanted the car registration book (tapien rot).
Back in the day, before Chiang Mai was overrun by white petty-bourgeois pensioners who cannot afford to retire in Benidorm or Florida, the police were quite different. One Private Tye reader got so drunk that he crashed his motorcycle into a police box in the small hours of the morning. There were two police inside. They came out of their box, they picked up the motorcycle, they picked up the drunken reader, they put the drunken reader on the bike, they sent him on his way. You wouldn't get dummies doing that, would you?
Looks like something you would expect to see in a 19th century Chinese landscape painting. Or possibly one of those garish, tourist trade, acrylics depicting Thai country life. We passed this place on a little used road, from Mae Sot to Mae Hong Son, which runs along the border with Burma. We thought that we should be able to get some pretty photos in there, but there was something very wrong about this place.
The houses are made of bamboo and leaves. Bamboo for the frame and woven split bamboo for floors and walls. Roofing is made of the large leaves of the tong tok tree held together with bamboo pins. Amazingly, these roofs are quite water-proof. However, the leaves only last for one season and the building has to be re-thatched every year. Also, the whole structure gets eaten by insects and has to be replaced every three years. The Thais have not built building anything like this for decades, now they use bank loans, concrete blocks and fiber-cement sheets for roofs. Even a pig pen will be roofed with fiber cement and mortgages. It was obvious that whoever lived in this place must have very poor lines of credit.
Also, there were no road signs. Almost all Thai villages are marked with signs, usually in Roman as well as Thai symbols. In fact there is no indication, in any language, about what the place is. The next thing we noticed was that there was no roads going into the “village”. Instead the whole area was surrounded by barbed wire, and the gates into the place were guarded by Boarder Patrol Police. So, we asked one of them “what's all this then?”
We were told that it is a refugee camp housing 50,000 Shan, Muslim, Karen and other Burmese who have fled Burma. Most have been living here for more than twenty years. They can come out, it was explained, but nobody can go in. So, we could not get the pretty pictures we wanted.
There was no sign of the UN and NGO workers that have made a career out of helping refugees with other people's money. They are in Mae Sot, a border boom town with luxury shopping malls and first class restaurants, driving about in their Range Rovers.
With Burma now a Democracy and the party of the angelic Aung San Suu Kyi having a large majority, the question arises “why don't these people go home?” Perhaps the fate of the Rohingya might have something to do with it.
Throughout the Far East you will find gateways with guardian lions. The original purpose of these statues seems to be lost in antiquity. Perhaps, they were there to keep away evil spirits, perhaps they were there to frighten off burglars. In Thailand we find various alternatives to lions. There are the famous giants (Yak) in the King's palace complex in Bangkok and in Chiang Mai we find one temple gate is guarded by giant cockerels.
The guardians at Wat Plaeng Har are like nothing else. These giant sphinx are really scary. If their purpose is to frighten people away, they would seem to be succeeding. There appears to be few visitors to this Wat. The Bot is locked up and construction work abandoned. However, there is an alternative explanation. The nearby Doi Tao lake has dried up, the market is deserted and Wat Plaeng Har now stands on a road to nowhere.
A “must see” for anybody visiting the north of Thailand is Doi Tao Lake. As can be seen from Google Maps it is a huge expanse of water, 4.2 kilometers across and four times as long. It is off the old road from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and is clearly sign-posted with one of those Blue Government tourist attraction signs. Take the turning and you will come to an ample car park surrounded by stalls for vendors to sell the fresh fish caught in the lake. This is the best viewing place for this unique lake. Its unique because there is no water in it, and there hasn't been any for more than two years. None at all, not a drop.
As was going down to Phrae,
I passed a lake that wasn't there.
It wasn't there again today,
I wonder why it went away
They love Buddhas in Thailand and usually the bigger the better. Unfortunately, they are subject to the depredations of torrential rain during the monsoon. The people of Ban Hong, a small town on the old road from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, have come up with a solution. The Buddha at Wat Huai Pangka has been dressed in a plastic rain cape.
We all know that the people of Chiang Mai are the happiest in the world. They never stop smiling and they only stop dancing in order to prepare gourmet meals for foreign tourists. But did you know that the toilets in Chiang Mai are also happy, and that there is an award for the happiest one? This toilet is so clean that it seem sacrilegious to do you business there. So, where is it? A restaurant? No. A hotel? No. A municipal building? No. Its in a temple. Yes, you guessed it, it is at Wat Tha Mai I. As the French say vive la difference.