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Last Call – Is there life on Mars?

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Last Call – Is there life on Mars? | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: I found myself singing the David Bowie classic from Ziggy Stardust just this morning in the shower, with that classic line “Is there life on Mars?” I’m not quite sure of the answer, though sipping cocktails while viewing a lunar Martian sunset certainly sounds like a good idea. That just may be the penultimate sundowner.

Yes, the danger signs of my tendency to digress peek out around the corner and catch my attention for just a moment. Either a gentle tug of the arm or perhaps a full blown slap on the face might be called for? My demons now stand front and center, blocking my progress on the journey back to the point.

Another thought has just struck me blind. Is there life after property?

This starts me thinking with a near religious fervor. Was it Karl Marx that said, to paraphrase, “religion is the opium of the people?” I’m barely into the piece and question marks are starting to mount like speeding tickets for an out of control high-velocity freak juggernaut. Now firmly off the road and onto the shoulder, all this talk of Mars, religion and property must come to a point – so perhaps let us elevate it to one of art. It’s a natural conclusion given the thin white line or even the thin white duke.

Art and real estate are not really a yin and yang or even kissing cousins. Strangely, it is a pleasant surprise that I don’t have to stray far from Phuket to find a converted soul. A case in point is former Banyan Tree property salesman Richard Skene. Scottish by birth, he first travelled to Thailand in the 1990s, backpack in tow. Some five years later he returned to the Kingdom to ply his trade – selling properties.

Over the years, and after a stint in Singapore, he came back again to the posh W Samui. Like so many expatriates of our age, the magnetic draw or shall we say allure of all things Thai was profound and life changing. Inspiration somehow grew, from an ideal to reality, trying to find a voice beyond the commercial bounds of day to day life. Art came knocking at Richard’s door.

Over the past year or so, Richard has been feverishly putting together his thoughts, ideas and inspirations into all sorts of medium – graphic design, photography, video and light installation. Over the past two months his dream has become a reality and a Bangkok exhibition self titled “The Road of Excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom” has been showcased at the stylish venue Eat Me.

While it’s exceedingly hard to put a finger on the pulse of his creative ambition, Richard points to the influence of contemporary legends – such as Warhol, Hirst and Lichtenstein. My mind moves over to the more eclectic work of Robert Mapplethorpe as some sort of side trip off Main Street and a true adventure going sideways.

To date, the feedback from the showcase has been strong, and there is an undercurrent here of something bigger at play. Richard jumped off the train and hurled himself into the unknown, exposing himself to the forces of nature with a pack of wild dogs biting all along the way. To say it’s not the destination but the journey is nearly a sappy greeting card line – but oh so appropriate.

For all those property people with big ideas collecting upstairs in their heads, perhaps it’s time to jump on the train as well and go out and try something extraordinary. It doesn’t mean you have to go all the way to Mars, but taking chances and risks has its meaning to each person in a different way.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks and can be contacted though C9hotelworks.com.

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— Bill Barnett

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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Domestic air passenger numbers double those of January

Maya Taylor

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Domestic air passenger numbers double those of January | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Vietjet

Passenger numbers on domestic flights within Thailand have doubled within a month, rising from 4,000 in January to over 10,000 this month. Having nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels, domestic travel plummeted once more when Covid-19 resurfaced late last year.

Apirat Chaiwongnoi from the Department of Airports says 15 of Thailand’s 29 airports are now operating domestic flights, with more expected to follow. He believes the aviation sector will continue to recover further in the coming 6 months, bolstered by the national vaccine rollout.

Around 120 domestic flights a day are now operating, which is twice the number that were operating at the lowest point in the crisis. Prior to the resurgence of the virus in December, domestic passenger numbers had recovered to 30,000 – 40,000 a day, around 80% of pre-pandemic numbers.

The DoA says airports must continue to adhere to the Covid-19 hygiene measures put in place by the Health Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Samut Sakhon’s shrimp market to remain closed until February 15

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Samut Sakhon’s shrimp market to remain closed until February 15 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kom Chad Luek

Samut Sakhon’s Central Shrimp Market, the epicentre of Thailand’s recent wave of Covid-19, will remain closed until February 15. The market can reopen once the overall hygiene situation at the market and surrounding area has improved, according to the province’s disease control committee.

Local officials say the shrimp market needs to remain closed until the market structure and nearby residential facilities are inspected. People who violate the order face up to a year in prison and a fine up to 100,000 baht.

More than 12,000 people in the province have tested positive for Covid-19. The increasing number of infections is a result from the active case finding to contain the spread of the virus.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World | Thairath Online

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