A woman is dead after falling some 30 metres to the ground while rock climbing in Ao Nang, Krabi, across Phang Nga bay from Phuket. Krabi police were called to the scene at the base of the 50-metre Khao Toh Luang cliff face, just north of Ao Nang, at 10am yesterday.
Once there, they found the body of 55 year old Nantawan Freja, of Kanchanaburi province in western Thailand. A climbing rope was still tied around her waist, connected to a climbing pin some 30 metres up the cliff face.
Bags containing clothes, rock-climbing ropes cash in different currencies were found nearby, as well as and Freja’s Swedish driving license.
Freja’s body was found by locals, who called the police. Officers believe she had been dead at least 12 hours before her body was found. The body was taken to Krabi Provincial Hospital for examination.
Police explained that Freja, originally from Kanchanaburi, was married to a Swedish man. The couple had a son and lived in Sweden, but also had a three storey townhouse in Ao Nang.
“Ms Nantawan’s husband and son came to the police station to acknowledge her death at 3pm [yesterday]. They did not believe there were any suspicious circumstances involved in her death.”
“At this stage, we believe that Ms Nantawan fell from the cliff face, but we have not concluded yet whether it was an accident. We are still questioning witnesses and waiting for the post-mortem report from the hospital.”
SOURCE: The Phuket NewsKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Songkran around Thailand – where can you get wet in 2020?
PLEASE NOTE: Some of these scheduled activities may change or be altered due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Songkran Festival is an event where an all-out water battle and ancient traditions somehow blend in annual celebration. It’s unlike anything else in the world. And it’s wet. Venturing out onto Thailand’s streets on April 13 is an open invitation to have a bucket of water thrown at you or a loaded water super-soaker unloaded in your direction. From the wet and wild to the gentle and traditional, you WILL get wet.
For tourists, the event offers a huge water party breaking out in the streets of Thailand’s towns and villages. For locals, it is a time when they can spend moments with their families and visit temples to make merit – and then get involved in the water fights as well.
Songkran is celebrated around Thailand but some of the larger, (slightly organised) water fights and fun are held in the major tourist magnets around the country, notably Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya and the popular tourist islands. Chiang Mai gets a special notoriety for keeping the water fight going for up to three or four days.
This Songkran 2020 the Tourism Authority of Thailand is organising celebrations in three emerging tourist destinations – Tak, Mukdahan and Ranong – and is supporting activities in eight other provinces (Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Ayutthaya, Phuket and Songkhla).
Songkran in Tak, Mukdahan and Ranong
Amazing Songkran 2020 @ Tak
Scheduled from April 12-14 at Wat Thai Wattanaram and Naresuan Maharaj Stadium in Mae Sot district, the event celebrates the time-honoured traditions of the Thai Yai ethnic group and the Thai people, with traditional activities including purifying a Buddha image, sand pagoda building and a colourful parade. Other activities are cultural and music performances, a water tunnel display, a folk village, a food fair and local art and craft workshops.
Muk-Savan Fun & Fin Festival 2020, Mukdahan
Taking place from April 12-16 at Hat Manopirom, Wan Yai district, the event is focused on the theme of ‘Cool Isan’ with a water tunnel and displays, an umbrella tunnel, and a five-region sand pagoda zone as well as a ‘Sand Art Contest.’ The opening ceremony and stage performance is scheduled on April 13.
Mineral Water and Songkran Festival 2020, Ranong
Taking place from April 13-15 at the multi-purpose ground in front of the Mueang Ranong Municipal Office, the event places emphasis on Ranong’s unique local culture with a colourful twist. Highlights include a traditional Songkran parade, an exhibition on the 12 Zodiac signs, and a food fair with 20 booths of rare indigenous food items. There’s an LED-decorated water tunnel display to welcome visitors to various other activities unique to the area including cooking shows, traditional dances, and music performances.
Songkran in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Ayutthaya, Phuket and Songkhla
Songkran in Bangkok
- Songkran Wisutkasat (April 13-15) on Wisutkasat Road, Under the Rama VIII Bridge. This year marks the 77th anniversary of Songkran Wisutkasat, best known for being the origin of the Miss Songkran Beauty contest in Thailand, with several other cultural activities, including merit making, purifying Buddha image, paying respect to the elders, and a colourful parade. One special activity for this year is free entry to the Bank of Thailand Museum (Bangkhunprom Palace).
- Songkran Siam Square (April 13-15). This year’s event promotes “Pha Khao Ma” (Thai men’s multi-purpose loincloth) and a ‘safe Songkran’ theme, with cultural activities including purifying Buddha images from four ASEAN countries, cultural and music performances, folk market and water-based fun. Tourists and locals are encouraged to celebrate the festival without chalk powder (din sor pong), alcoholic drinks or wearing revealing clothes.
Songkran Phra Pradaeng 2020 (April 19-21) at the Phra Pradaeng City Hall. Phra Pradaeng is where the local people observe Mon ceremonies in a traditional way, and their New Year traditions are very different to those found in the rest of Thailand. For a start, the celebrations here take place a little later, and feature a range of cultural activities including a spectacular floral procession, a parade of the local Mon people in their colourful traditional outfits, a Miss Songkran parade and Mister and Miss Songkran Beauty Contest. Visitors will also have the chance to join merit-making activities in the local temples, pay respect to community elders and enjoy folk plays and cultural performances.
Sukhothai Songkran 2020
- Thai Puan’s Elephant Ordination Tradition, Ban Hat Siew (April 7) at Wat Hat Siew in Si Satchanalai district. Held annually for over 175 years, this is an ancient ordination ceremony that all local men must become monks for at least seven days and every year, the ordinations take place on this date. The men prepared in the traditional way are taken to the temples on elephants while wearing local headgear. This ritual is based upon the tale of “Phra Vessandara Chadok” one of the Lord Buddha’s former incarnations. Most of the men leave the temples on Songkran day on April 15 to enjoy New Year with their families.
- Song Nam – Oi Tan Ceremony, Songkran Si Satchanalai (April 8-12) at the Monument of Phra Mahathammaracha I (Lithai) in Si Satchanalai district. Oi Tan, is a phrase that means to make a donation and relates to the good morals of the people of Sukhothai. The highlight is a procession to pay respects to Phra Maha Thammaracha I, who was king of Sukhothai from 1347 to 1368. Other highlights include cultural parades from the 10 local communities, Lady Oi Tan beauty competition, a food fair and music performance.
- Songkran and Sawankhalok Food Festival (April 11-15) at the Public Health Park in Sawankhalok district. Here visitors can Song Nam Phraor purifying the three highly-revered Buddha images from the three most important temples of the district, including Wat Sawang Arom Worawihan, Wat Sankaram, and Wat Klong Krajong. Other highlights are a local food fair and a chance to ‘check-in’ at the newly-created ‘Pop Culture’ street art created by famous ASEAN artists.
- Retro Songkran Splendours, Sukhothai (April 12-14) at Sukhothai Historical Park. Celebrating the ancient city’s status as the cradle of Thai civilization, visitors can embrace the old-style features of the event with traditional costumes and age-old games, parades and merit making. One of the most popular events is the sand pagoda building contest in which families compete to make stunning designs.
- Flowery Shirt Songkran on Khao Tok Road, Sukhothai (April 12-15) at the Sukhothai city and Sukhothai public park. Tourists and locals are invited to wear colourful Hawaiian-style shirts, which have become a firm Songkran tradition. Highlights include a float procession and the chance to pay respects to the Buddha images, water fun, retro Thai circle dance activities and beauty contests.
- Hae Nam Kuen Hong Ceremony and Chao Muen Dong Bathing Rite (April 17-19) at the Monument of Chao Muen Dong, Ban Toek sub-district in Si Satchanalai district. Activities include a sacred ceremony to pay respect to the Buddha image of Chao Muen Dong at Ban Toek, folk plays and a procession of elephants as well as cultural parades from 14 local communities. Water-based activities can be enjoyed at Ban Toek-Ban Na Ton Chan tourism communities.
Paweni Pi Mai Muang, Chiang Mai (April 12-16).
- Salung Luang Songkran Festival, Lampang (April 9 – 13) at Khelang Nakorn Park on Tha Kraw Noi Road. Enjoy a huge parade called the Salung Luang procession as well as the Miss and Mister Songkran Contests, floral horse-drawn carriages competitions, cultural shows and a many local performances.
Ayutthaya Songkran Festival 2020
- Songkran at the Ancient Capital (April 13-15) along the Sri Sanphet Road in front of the TAT Ayutthaya Office. Celebrate Songkran in the most unusual exotic way – water splashing with the elephants in the environs of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya Historical Park and the chance to enjoy the traditional Thai circle dances with the locals.
- Mon Songkran (April 14) at Wat Thong Bo, Bang Pa-In district. The Mon people have their own traditions when it comes to celebrating Songkran and many of these can be seen in the Bang Pa-in district of Ayutthaya where a range of activities take place around the temple of Wat Thong Bo. These include merit making, bathing of the local Buddha images and cultural parade.
Phuket Songkran Festival 2020
- The Water Festival on the Beach (April 11-13) at Patong Beach.
- Songkran No Alcohol (April 13) at Limelight Avenue Mall.
- Water Festival 2020 (April 14-15) at Dibuk Road.
Hat Yai Midnight Songkran 2019 (April 12-15) on the streets of Nipat Uthit 3, Sanehanusorn and Thammanoon Vithi. Cultural activities include a Buddha image parade, purifying Buddha image and local folk plays. Others are beauty contests, Muay Talay sea boxing matches, music concerts and the Songkran Carnival parade.
Songkran is a time when family comes first, respect is paid to seniors and people visit the temples to take part in age-old ceremonies. Visitors will get more out of Songkran if they take the time to understand its origins and its traditions. Above all, have an enjoyable and safe time for Thailand’s New Year celebrations.
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Countdown to reopening – contracts awards for new Maya Bay infrastructure
by Sawat, Five Star Thailand Tours
New plans are now being enacted which will lead to the re-opening of Maya Bay to tourism again. With a new development project in the works, it won’t be long until visitors will once again be able to visit ‘The Beach’, according to sources with knowledge of the matter. Maya Bay was shut down to tourist traffic in June of 2018 by Thailand’s Department for National Marine Parks. The Beach was initially closed to due concerns that unregulated mass-tourism was destroying the bay and the beach.
But as of now, construction plans are being put into motion in a bid to re-open the beach to tourists while preserving the hard work that has gone into the restoration project over recent years.
Thailand’s DNP has brainstormed a number of creative solutions which will allow the famous, and highly popular, Maya Bay to begin welcoming tourists as early as November 2020.
“Sustainability is at the forefront of the re-opening in order to allow the bay to continue to recover.”
The plans, which have recently been announced, will see new infrastructure built on Koh Phi Phi Leh. The new plans include a viewing platform that looks over the beach, and a new rigid pier to be built on the back-side of the beach, at Loh Samah Bay. A boardwalk will also be built which will allow tourists to move between the new pier at Loh Samah Bay and Maya Bay beach itself. To prevent further damage to the environment, tourist will be limited to the designated boardwalks when navigating the island – they won’t enter the bay by boat, they won’t walk on the beach.
Last month a development contract was awarded to improve the facilities at Maya Bay. Two projects have been commissioned and awarded to the Suchardti Karnchang Company (สุชาติการโยธาจำกัด).
The first project is called… ‘THE MAYA BAY AREA FACILITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECT’ and involves construction of a rigid wooden pier at Maya Bay’s back entrance. The new pier will provide a safe area for speedboats and long-tail boats to moor. A ramp will then lead away from the soon-to-be-built pier which will extend out, into a ramp. The ramp will be a walkway, allowing access to Loh Samah Bay, in between cliffs of Koh Phi Phi Ley.
The new infrastructure will provide a more sustainable area for tour boats to park, in an essential bid to preserve the Maya Bay beach and bar area for future generations.
By utilising Loh Samah Bay as the new entry point to visit Maya Bay, the need for tour boats to enter the bay and dock on the beach will be eliminated.
Initial plans were to install a temporary floating pier, however, in order for the bridge over Loh Samah’s Cliffs to remain stable and safe, a rigid structure fixed to the sea bed is necessary.
The Maya Bay pier will provide a proper and permanent mooring spot for Koh Phi Phi tour companies in order to further preserve the coral inside the bay. The new pier is expected to have the capacity to dock a maximum of eight boats at a time. This is part of the bid to limit visitor numbers and preserve the environment.
Thailand’s Department for National Parks has invested 6,050,000 baht (around US$200,000) for the construction of the new pier. Work is about to begin and will be finished before the end of 2020, according to sources.
This 3D rendering shows the soon to be constructed rigid pier, which will be constructed at Loh Samah Bay incorporating a ramp elevating over the cliffs at Loh Samah Bay.
Boats will be able to dock on the rear of Maya Bay and tourists will be guided over the bridge, leading directly onto a new boardwalk. The boardwalk will pass through Loh Samah Bay and out onto a viewing platform at Ao Maya.
This 3D render shows designs for the new pier, set to be installed behind the bay. The new pier will make recording and limiting visitor numbers to Maya Bay, a much easier task for Thailand’s Department of National Parks. The number of boats able to stop here each day will be limited. And only pre-registered, approved and licenced tour companies will have access to use the new facilities.
The second project also awarded to Suchardti Karnchang Co., Ltd. comes at a cost of ฿11,580,000THB (375,000USD)
Codenamed the ‘LANDSCAPE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT’ the project will see the construction of an elevated boardwalk running right through from Loh Samah Bay, leading out onto Maya Bay beach, a large viewing platform will overlook the bay, and smaller terraces will look out over the beach, new seating areas, bathroom facilities and food and drink kiosks will be built.
This boardwalk will replace the existing infrastructure and, keeping all tourists on the designated walkways will ensure that nature in the area will not be destroyed and can continue to grow. It still remains unclear as to whether tourists will be allowed to swim in the ocean (potentially damaging corals) or have access to Maya Bay Beach.
An ideal scenario would see all tourists keeping to the boardwalks at all times, however, it is rumoured that a limited number of visitors will be allowed access onto the beach by paying an additional charge.
The new plans have been widely praised, the genius solution from the Department of National Parks should allow the beach to open again, alow their revenue to return (estimated at a whopping 35 million Thai Baht per month) and all whilst protecting the fragile beach, and maintaining preservation works.
3D rendered graphics show how the new boardwalk is predicted to look. The boardwalk will run from the pier on Loh Samah Bay all the way through the mangrove jungle before emerging at Maya Bay. Keeping tourists on the boardwalk will help to maintain the environment and will assist with the long-term preservation of the beach, while still allowing tourists to visit the famous tourist magnet.
It is unclear, and plans have not yet been revealed, on whether tourists will have full access to the beach, or if restrictions will be enforced to stay on the designated pathways and lookout points. Let’s hope it’s the former rather than the latter.
With thanks to Five Star Thailand Tours
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Head-on collision kills Austrian couple in Krabi
Two Austrian* tourists were killed in a collision with a truck in Thailand’s southern Krabi province on Monday. The pair were riding motorbikes registered in Krabi and veered into the wrong lane while navigating a turn on the road to Krabi Hot Springs when they collided head-on with an oncoming Mitsubishi pickup truck at approximately 4pm.
Police and rescue workers arrived at the scene at around 4:30pm to find a brown Mitsubishi pickup truck in the left lane with significant damage to its front. The motorbikes had also sustained serious damage. Both riders of the motorbikes were confirmed dead at the scene. Krabi police identified the two as 54 year old Michael Benk De and 53 year old Hei Delin De.
The 29 year old driver of the truck was at the scene and suffered no injuries. He told police he was returning to the resort where he works when the two motorbikes rounded the corner, veered into his lane and hit him head on. A third tourist, a friend of the couple, who was riding close behind but was not involved in the collision, confirmed the driver’s statement.
The pickup truck driver was tested for alcohol at the scene and police confirmed the result was negative, adding that they are unsure what charges, if any, the driver will face, as further investigations need to be conducted.
*The tourists killed in the accident were confirmed by the Tourist Police to be from Austria, not Australia, as earlier reported in local media.Facebook page.
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