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Countdown! Thailand’s first satellite launch planned for Friday

Jack Burton

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Countdown! Thailand’s first satellite launch planned for Friday | The Thaiger
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Thailand’s air force will launch its first satellite this Friday, following months of delay. Dubbed Napa-1, it’s scheduled to be launched using an Ariane Vega rocket from a staging area in French Guyana in South America, according to a Royal Thai Air Force source. The launch was postponed 3 times, in September and December last year due to technical issues, then again in March because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to the spokesman, the satellite will will be launched into low earth orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometres. It will primarily be used to observe Thai air space for defence and national security purposes, but also to detect hotspots to prevent bushfires, and observe water resources to predict and combat floods or drought. The source says Napa-1’s cameras will play a pivotal role in the RTAF’s defence system, strengthening national security and preventing threats.

The air force bought the satellite from Innovative Solutions in Space, a small satellite manufacturer based in the Netherlands. It’s a CubeSat 6U model and will begin operation when it finally goes into orbit, and will work in tandem with the Napa-2 satellite, scheduled for launch in July.

Its cost has not been revealed but the chief of RTAF’s Space Operation Centre said earlier it cost “less than 100 million baht.” SPOC was set up in August to enhance the RTAF’s capacity in space.

Its main function is air surveillance and space inspection. It can also help in public disaster relief efforts, provide information on hot spots in forests, to help in forest fire prevention and fighting, as well as in the management floods and drought.

The launch will be televised live on the Arianespace YouTube channel on Friday at 8:30am Thai time.

In Isaan each year budding Thai rocketeers try their luck with the Bun Bang Fai festivals around the region. Here’s one successful launch AND retrieval mission. The festivals are meant to celebrate…. oh we really have no idea. But they drink a lot and play loud music.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Khaosod English

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Phuket

Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival gets the green light – VIDEO

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival gets the green light – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Caitlin Ashworth

WARNING: The content below contains photos and videos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

Somehow Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival is to go ahead next month, but officials say they will ask participants to strictly observe social distancing. Good luck with that! For those who don’t know, the festival isn’t exactly known for the food. It’s known for blood, body mutilation and more blood.

During street processions for the weeklong event, also known as the Nine Gods Festival, so called “mah songs” are known to practice self-mutilation and are said to enter a trance-like state, channeling spirits through their body. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and many suggest the mah song acts like a horse for the spirit to ride.

Many mah songs pierce their checks, ears and lips, some with large swords and thick needles. Some slice their tongues continuously for hours, blood dripping down on the street. Others appear to be in a trace walk barefoot as firecrackers explode on the ground.

Mah songs march down Phuket’s streets for hours with a team of devotees to help tend to their wounds, adjust the piercings, wipe away drool and blood, and keep them hydrated. It’s understood that devotees wear white as a symbol of purity. It’s also reported that they abstain from eating meat, drinking alcohol and having sex during the weeklong festival.

It seems gruesome, but it’s actually very spiritual. Business owners and locals line the street, some setting up altars. Mah songs stop at each one and do a quick ritual. Some mah songs carry a black flag, waving it over onlookers who bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position. Some spend time blessing the elderly and handing out bracelets to children. During a procession last year, a woman held up a bracelet as said “the ‘Spirit’ gave this to my mother.”

This year, the festival will have to be a little different to abide by coronavirus prevention measures. The Bangkok Post says it’s the first festival since the outbreak. The head festival organiser Prasert Fukthongphol says “we will seriously enforce social distancing measures and require all participants to wear face masks.”

The grotesque piercings, noisy parades and visits to the shrine, are good news for Phuket’s tourism and bad news if you’re a vegetable. Many adherents to the Chinese-heritage local festival will go without sex, alcohol and meat for the week of so of the festival. The week of events and ceremonies hopes to scare away the bad gods again but, especially this year, attract some extra visitors to the festival.

Another Vegetarian Festival in Chon Buri has also been given the green light. The event is planned for October 16 to the 26. This year’s main event for the festival will be in Naklua at Sawangboriboon Thammasathan Foundation at the Sein Sua Chinese Temple, but many other events will be around the city throughout the week.

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival gets the green light - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival gets the green light - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival gets the green light - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival gets the green light - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival gets the green light - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Pattaya News

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Events

Phuket’s ‘Boat Splash’ welcomes everyone for some fun in the sun

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s ‘Boat Splash’ welcomes everyone for some fun in the sun | The Thaiger

Disabled Sailing Thailand are organising Phuket’s first Boat Splash on October 21 off Phuket’s east coast. An on-water meet-up that’s open to everyone, Boat Splash will take place in the waters between Rang Yai Island off Phuket Boat Lagoon and Royal Phuket Marina, and Cape Yamu.

What originally grew from an idea to offer people with disabilities a safe opportunity to get out on the water on a large leisure craft, has now grown into a fully-inclusive event where anyone can rendezvous off the east coast for an afternoon of fun on the sea and in the sun.

“Accessibility is a huge problem for people with special needs preventing them from taking advantage of opportunities the rest of us take for granted,” says organiser and founder of Disabled Sailing Thailand, Peter Jacops.

“Boat Splash will be a great experience for people with disabilities, some of whom have never been on the water, as they will get to breathe in the sea air, feel what it’s like to be on the ocean and really get a chance to enjoy the wonders of nautical life.”

Boat Splash will take place from 11am to 3pm on Wednesday October 21.

There are no fees involved, everyone and all safe water craft from SUPs, dinghies, jet skis and tenders to sailing yachts, powerboats and superyachts are welcome.

“We have had a great response from the marine industry and people of Phuket. Many charter operators have offered their support and are keen to give back to the community. As a result of the interest, we decided to expand the concept to be an inclusive event that is open to all.”

“Although Phuket is suffering right now, we hope people can come together and enjoy a fun day out on the water. It’ll be a great way to remind us all of what a beautiful place Phuket is and how lucky we all are to live here.”

For more information about Boat Splash, go to facebook.com/events/327317088551361. For more information about Disabled Sailing Thailand, visit disabledsailingthailand.org.

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Bangkok

Bangkok expo planned to fill 1 million job vacancies

Caitlin Ashworth

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Bangkok expo planned to fill 1 million job vacancies | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Visa

Thailand has a lot of job opportunities. About a million. The Labour Ministry is hosting an expo to connect job seekers, especially recent university graduates, with companies. For recent graduates, a new government initiative co-payment system will take care of half the salary.

Job Expo Thailand 2020 will run from September 26 to 28 at Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre, or Bitec. Government agencies are expected to post around 400,000 job positions, according to the Labour Minister Suchat Chomklin. About 100,000 jobs are expected to be posed from companies overseas. There will be around 200,000 job positions for university graduates. Another 200,000 jobs are expected to be posted from companies from various sectors.

“The economy is reviving after the lifting of the Covid-19 lockdown. Companies have reopened and begun to hire their workforce again… This organised state job expo is expected to boost confidence in the economy and accelerate the hiring process.”

The labour minister says he hopes the mass hiring will help revive the economy after the pandemic.

“It is not practical now to seek a job in a normal way… So we’ve decided to pull in all companies that seek to place job postings in one place.”

The Bangkok Post did not report on how many, if any, companies would be open to hiring foreigners. But there are options for native-English speakers for teaching positions. Thailand’s Education Minister has announced plans to recruit up to 10,000 native English-speaking teachers. Even though the the plan hasn’t been put in place yet, many schools have positions available since a number of foreign English teachers went back to their home countries during the pandemic.

For recent university graduates, the government has started a co-payment system to cover 50% of the salaries for new graduates for 12 months. Sachat says the system is expected to bring in 190 billion baht. The government plans subsidise 15,000 baht per month for 1 million new graduates, estimated to spend 180 billion baht over the next year on the subsidy.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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