Entry: Local News Roundup Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I just realized something - Chiang Mai doesn't have a local paper...except for the English-language ex-pat sneer mag "Chiang Mai CityLife", and the (also English-language ex-pat centric) "Chiang Mai Mail" (currently not publishing), which serve mainly to remind you that there are way too many of us here, and we mostly want to point and laugh at our surroundings from inside the safety of pool tournaments and (insert name of small group of someones pretending that this is wherever they came from) Theme Nights.

Then I realized something else - Osaka doesn't have a local paper either. Both Thailand and Japan seem to be ok with having regional news delivered by giant newspapers in the capital. In Osaka, there are usually about 2 pages stuck into whichever national paper you're reading, to cover "Kansai Region" - an area roughly the size and population of Tokyo.

Here, there isn't even a special section for anything outside the central area of the country - news from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is mixed in with all the Bangkok Bangkok Bangkok, with a little bit of "Monsoon Dooms South" and "Terrorists in South Casually Behead 700 Over Weekend" sprinkled around, just to keep it all fair. The Northeast (Esan) region is not highly regarded around the country (proximity to, and shared heritage with Laos places Esan people on a fairly low rung of the hierarchy), so we don't hear much about them.

What gives? Where I come from, any berg with more than a thousand people has at least a weekly rag. Most of them resemble family newsletters - how the weather affected the crops, how many goals Kenny Henderson,14,  scored in the all-county championship and how the naming of the old concession road for a local family has the other 2 local families in an uproar. It's not earth-shattering news, but at least they're making the effort.

Maybe nothing interesting happens outside of Bangkok - not enough to print a whole other paper, anyway. But, Sara reads the Bangkok Post every morning, and gives me little precis of interesting bits, and often the most interesting bits come from our own neighbourhood up here in the Ignored North. Here's some now :


Ex-nun gets jail

LESE MAJESTE :The Ayutthaya provincial court yesterday sentenced a former Buddhist nun to three years in prison for lese majeste.

Contrary to what I've heard about the King not taking this charge seriously any more, it appears that Benjawan Bensungnern, 73 and a novice monk have been clapped in irons for saying or doing something which denigrates or harms the reputation of the King. I couldn't find out what she did, but apparently it was pretty serious. The whole (short) story is HERE .


Chiang Rai declares disaster as temperatures plummet

'Christmas cold snap' hits the North

When Sara told me that Chiang Rai had been declared a Disaster Area, my first thought was, "Oh no...floods, landslides, armed insurrection - I hope Josh (a guy we know up there) is ok...". As it turns out, the disaster is that it's chilly. For those who don't believe me when I say that it is really really hot here all the time, consider this - the disaster relief office has said that "Up to 150,000 blankets and 800,000 items of warm clothing are needed" because "the temperature was measured at 12.7 degrees Celsius in the town of Chiang Rai and nine degrees at Doi Tung mountain" (somewhere around 50 F). This kind of thing reminds me of stories about 50-car pileups when it snows for ten minutes in Georgia. I understand that people in a hot climate don't do well with lower temperatures, but...disaster ? I think we're abusing that word a bit.


and, my old friend is back to put a jolt of pure fear through me :

Minor earthquake rattles Chiang Mai

A minor earthquake of 2.7 magnitude was felt in Chiang Mai Tuesday morning, according to the Chiang Mai-based Meteorological Centre.

There is no report of injuries or damage.

The quake occurred at three minutes after 7 a.m. at the area that was hit with a moderate earthquake last Wednesday. That quake, of 5.1 magnitude last week, caused slight cracks in four buildings at Mae Jo university.

'Minor' and 'moderate' are the right words to use here, but that doesn't stop me from whining like a dog during a thunderstorm. During that 5.1 shake last week, I was striding around looking for something solid to crawl under...while Sara said "Hm." in a mildly interested tone before she went back to her book. Earthquakes scare the stuff out of me, even small ones. There's an excellent reason for that - when the room starts sliding back and forth, you don't know how long or how big it's going to be - they all start out the same way. That way is wrong wrong wrong - giant buildings shouldn't move, and that's my whole take on it. I'm against it.


So there you have it - some interesting things do actually happen up here in the freezing North. We have nuns and monks bad-mouthing the King, a million people desperately in need of sweatshirts, and Chris standing in a door frame whimpering like a child. Admittedly, none of these items are any more earth-shattering than the small town news discussed earlier, but at least The Bangkok Post allows that they're building-cracking...

That's it from the Chiang Mai Bureau Desk - "That's news to me"..."Stay classy, blogosphere"...and "I'm Chris, and you're not...".



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