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Is the Kathu Temple involved in a zero dollar Chinese tour scam?

Tim Newton

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Hundreds of Chinese tour buses are clogging the tiny streets around ‘old Kathu’ on the northern side of Phra Phuket Kaew Road every day to drop the tourists off at the Kathu Temple. The temple now has a full commercial operation offering religious amulets, some of them selling for 20,000 baht and more.

Tourists are guided around some of the temple’s displays and artefacts, and told stories about the displays, real or otherwise.

Spotlight Phuket, who went public with the story of police corruption in Patong last October, has described the commercial enterprise as a ‘scam’.

Speaking to two people involved in the daily operations of the tours on site, they admitted that the temple was working in conjunction with a Chinese tour company.

The tourists are being told that the amulets will ‘give them good luck’. We weren’t able to get any proof of these claims.

The temple’s commercial activities are another example of innocent Chinese tourists being dropped off at various activities, not included in their original agenda, where they are ‘encouraged’ to purchase over-priced, gems, latex (rubber products), herbs and herbal products, dried fruits and, in this case, religious amulets.

The issue of a Buddhist community temple being involved in questionable commercial activities is now being investigated by concerned local officials and police. A translator who works with one of the Chinese tour companies visiting the temple, says that the bus companies are being offered around 50% of the sales made to their tour groups as an incentive to bring the bus groups to the temple.

In the meantime the buses are causing traffic problems with the small streets of the adjacent village completely unsuited to the large buses meandering through the roads to get to the Kathu Temple.

 

 

 

- Tim Newton

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 2,800 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 330 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and now produces digital media for The Thaiger and Phuket Gazette.

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Bangkok: Invitation accepted – 30 political parties will meet for talks Monday

The Thaiger

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Thirty Thai political parties have accepted the invitation to meet Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan at tomorrow’s (Monday) meeting hosted by the government. The government promised this ‘getting to know you session’ as part of the roadmap towards the next election, scheduled for February.

Gen Prawit says the meeting scheduled for June 25 will be attended by representatives of at least 30 political parties who have already accepted the invitation. Although attendance at the meeting is not mandatory, he said it would be ideal to have all parties, intending to run in the forthcoming election, take part in the discussions.

In the meantime, Election Commission secretary-general Pol Col Jarungwit Phumma says that conclusions derived from his discussions with Deputy Prime Minister for Legal Affairs Wissanu Krea-ngam regarding problems and obstacles faced by political parties will also be presented at Monday’s meeting.

Meanwhile the Thai PM, speaking from his week of talk in the UK, re-iterated his commitment to a February date for the next election. Read the story HERE.

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Chiang Rai: Rescue operation looking for 11 footballers and a coach trapped in a flooded cave

The Thaiger

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11 teenage footballers, along with their coach, have been stuck in a flooded Chiang Rai cave since last night (Saturday). Rescuers have been trying to get to the team who are trapped in a flooded cave in the region’s Mae Sai district. The cave is located in the Tham Luang-Khunnam Nang Non national park.

The footballers are all from the Tambon Pong Pha and aged between 13-15. They went to the Luang Nang Non cave with their coach coach after finishing weekly training on Saturday afternoon. Thai PBS reports that 11 bicycles and a motorbike were found at the mouth of the cave by park officials at about 7pm on Saturday night.  Some backpacks and soccer shoes were sitting in baskets and attached to the bikes and motorbikes when rescuers arrived.

Park officials then contacted the chairman of the soccer team and asked him to come to the cave to identify the belongings and confirm if they belonged to his team.  He told the park officials that his boys and the coach went into the cave but then weren’t able to get out after water from heavy rains flooded the cave entrance. He said he had sought help from emergency responders from the Mae Sai district.

The rescue team arrived at the cave but weren’t able to get far because they didn’t have the right diving gear to access the flooded cave.

The same team returned this morning (Sunday) with their gear to begin their rescue mission.

UPDATE: Up to 2pm Sunday rescuers have still no located the missing team and their coach.

SOURCE: Thai PBS and Love Mae Sai Facebook page.

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Chiang Mai: European tourist catches Legionnaires’ Disease in hotel

The Thaiger

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A European tourist, his nationality has not been named, has succumbed to the Legionnaire bacteria in a Chiang Mai hotel. A public health official in the northern city admits that the tourist went down with Legionnaires’ Disease after staying in Chiang Mai. He says that foreigners tend not to have resistance to the legionella bacteria that causes the condition.

But added that Thais have a natural resistance to the bacteria (in researching the topic we couldn’t verify any evidence of the health official’s claims.).

Sanook is reporting that Dr Sumeth Onwandee, head of the Urban Institute for Disease Prevention in the northern Thai capital, said that the hotel’s hot water systems including a reservoir for hot water, taps and shower heads were checked. The hotel was not named.

The bacteria propagates in temperatures of 32 to 35 degrees.

Infected people can develop a ‘kind’ of pneumonia. There are thought to be about 8,000 to 18,000 cases in the US each year. The disease was first identified after the 1976 American Legion convention in a hotel in Philadelphia.

Many legionnaires and other people died prompting one of the biggest disease investigations in US history.  There is no vaccine for the disease and prevention depends on good maintenance of water systems.

Dr Sumeth said that most Thais are immune though foreigners are more susceptible.

Sanook did not report on the condition of the tourist who contracted the disease.

SOURCE: Sanook

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