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Tham Luang Cave reopens to visitors in November

Jack Burton

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Tham Luang Cave reopens to visitors in November | The Thaiger
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The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation says it is reopening the Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai on November 1. The cave had a test opening on October 27 and everything went as planned.

It will be the first time visitors have been allowed into the caves since the famous Tham Luang Cave Rescue nearly 18 months ago. Since then, visitors have only been allowed to the entrance of the cave and but not inside. On October 27 officials had a test run to allow tourists inside again.

During the rescue, twelve members of a local junior football team, aged eleven to sixteen, along with their 25 year old assistant coach, were trapped after heavy rains partially flooded the cave whilst they were inside.

Rescue efforts were hampered by rising water levels and strong currents, and no contact was made for more than a week. The effort expanded into a massive operation amid intense worldwide public interest involving international rescue teams. On July 2, divers found the group alive on an elevated rock about 4 kilometres from the cave mouth. Between July 8 and 10, all the boys and their coach were rescued in a risky, exquisitely-prepared and innovative operation.

Since the rescue there has been a massive renovation to the cave. All the rescue equipment has been removed and safety rails and decorations have been placed inside to ensure visitors can explore the cave safely.

The ‘test’ visitors were divided into groups of 25 to 30. Three groups were allowed in at a time, and later groups only admitted when the previous groups returned. All the visitors say were pleased with the process and changes to the cave, according to the cave’s spokesman.

The official opening date is November 1 and visitors can enter the cave from 9am – 4,30pm every day.

SOURCE: Thai Residents

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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.

Air Pollution

Air pollution reaches “unhealthy” levels in Thailand’s north and northeast

The Thaiger

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Air pollution reaches “unhealthy” levels in Thailand’s north and northeast | The Thaiger

18 provinces in Thailand’s north and northeast are being hit by a wave of smoke and air pollution as the burning season kicks in for the country’s agricultural sector. The next 2 months are the peak of the burning off season for agricultural waste as farmers prepare their land for the next crops of corn, rice and sugar and use the fires to aid the harvest of some of their crops.

With sugar cane plantations, for example, farmers choose to burn the leaves off the plant, exposing the stalks, before harvesting the profit-making stalks, saving time and money. There are mechanical ways to achieve the same result but the farmers, pushed to slender profit margins by the multinational food companies, are unable to invest and amortise the additional costs.

The levels of PM 25 micron particulate, a measure of the smoke and haze, has been at “unhealthy” levels in Chiang Rai, Phrae, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Tak, Phetchabun, Phayao, Nan, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Khon Kaen, Roi Et, Chaiyaphum, Ubon Ratchathani, Saraburi, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom and Nakhon Ratchasima.

The Pollution Control Department are now openly admitting that the major cause of the seasonal smoke is “open burning by farmers who are preparing their land”, according to the Bangkok Post. On Monday the Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan issued orders to prevent farmers from starting the plantation fires. You can check the result of his orders in the fire map below.

Air pollution reaches

iqair.com measures the average level of PM2.5 dust in the North at between 35-85 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m³) yesterday, considered “unhealthy”. In the Northeast, the levels ranged between 40-99μg/m³.

The Thai Pollution Control Department considers PM2.5 readings below 50μg/m³ as “safe” but the Thai standard is twice as high as what is considered safe by the World Health Organisation.

firms.modaps, the NASA satellite fire tracking service, shows the number of fires currently alight around Thailand and the concentrations in the north and north east. The fires in northern Cambodia and north east Myanmar are also contributing to the Thailand’s smog and haze, depending on which way the winds are blowing. During this time of the year, the winds are predominantly north east and light across much of Thailand. The firms.modaps feed is live, registering the fires alight at the time the screen capture was taken.

Air pollution reaches

Bangkok starts off Wednesday with relatively better air quality than the past few weeks.

Air pollution reaches

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thailand non-profit offers Zoom calls with Santa and his elephant friends

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand non-profit offers Zoom calls with Santa and his elephant friends | The Thaiger

Santa Claus isn’t at the North Pole this year. He’s in Northern Thailand. And he’s not with elves. He’s mixing in with some of Thailand’s beloved elephants. Don’t believe it? Give him a Zoom call.

Zoom calls on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with “Santa & his Elves” are offered by the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort and the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.

Zoom calls with Santa and his elephant friends are limited, and pricey! The effort is intended to raise money for the program which ethically cares for elephants that were formerly in the entertainment business. The reservation for a 20 minute call requires a $2,500 USD donation.

Those interested in supporting the elephant program can make a donation. “Elephant trunk calls” are also available during the coming year, but Santa won’t be around after Christmas.

The resort’s director of sustainability and conservation, John Roberts, says it costs $18,000 USD a year to feed just 1 elephant. A $20 donation feeds an elephant for one day.

“Since the start of the national lockdown in Thailand in March, we have taken in three elephants and their mahouts. The COVID-19 elephant refugees, whose camps were unable to care for them and would ultimately have left them unfriended and unfed, are now matched with friendship groups and, of course, have their own diet plan.”

To make a donation to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, click HERE.

SOURCE: Travel and Leisure

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Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai officials insist province is now safe to visit

Maya Taylor

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Chiang Rai officials insist province is now safe to visit | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ryan Harvey/Flickr

Officials in the northern province of Chiang Rai are assuring potential tourists from the rest of the Kingdom that it is safe to visit, saying the Covid-19 situation is under control. Chiang Rai hit the headlines in recent weeks, when a number of Thai nationals entered the province illegally from Myanmar. After bypassing health checks and quarantine, several subsequently tested positive for the virus, resulting in a handful of local infections.

Now deputy provincial governor, Worawit Chaisawat, is anxious to assure the rest of the country that the situation has been brought under control. He says the province has recorded no new local cases since the beginning of December. The only new infections in the province are imported cases brought in by those returning through the proper channels and entering state quarantine.

Around 180 Thai nationals are thought to have been employed at the 1G1-7 Hotel in the Burmese border town of Tachileik. Some media reports and claims from local residents say the 100 room, 4 storey hotel was used as a centre for prostitution. It became a hotbed of Covid-19 infections, causing much of its Thai workforce to flee, crossing back into Thailand illegally. Worawit says the resulting mini-outbreak of infections has now been brought under control and those who visit the province are not required to quarantine on their return home.

“We need to spread the word that there are no new infections in Chiang Rai. Visitors do not need to quarantine, and they are welcome to travel here. A flora festival is coming.”

The Bangkok Post reports that yesterday, the province recorded 6 new cases of the virus, all in state quarantine. All are believed to have arrived from Tachileik. Thailand recorded a total of 28 new cases yesterday, including 1 case of local transmission in a Bangkok nurse who had close contact with a Covid-19 patient.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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