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Police, health officials hunt Sierra Leone man amid Ebola fears

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Police, health officials hunt Sierra Leone man amid Ebola fears
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Public Health Ministry has sought police help to try to locate a Sierra Leone man who failed to report for a mandatory 21-day observation to see if he develops Ebola symptoms.

Samuel Sesay, 31, was healthy when he flew into Thailand about two weeks ago. However, the inability of health officials to contact or find him at the hotel he said he would be staying has led to concerns.

In a bid to prevent an outbreak of the deadly disease in Thailand, the ministry requires all people travelling from Ebola-affected countries, including Sierra Leone, to provide details on their health condition to the ministry every day for 21 days.

“There have been eight people on our observation list. Of them, only this man has lost touch with us,” the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary Wachira Pengjuntr said yesterday.

Officials from the Bureau of General Communicable Diseases have lodged a complaint at Yannawa Police Station and asked for help in locating Sesay.

“At the time he entered Thailand, he didn’t have any fever or any other symptoms,” Wachira said.

“He’s not a suspected Ebola patient. But we require him to report his health conditions to us in line with a strategy to prevent any outbreak of Ebola.”

During the past week, it was reported that there were about 1,000 new Ebola infections in Sierra Leone.

Wachira said the Ebola surveillance was designed to benefit everyone. If an Ebola infection was detected early, there was a better chance of recovery.

“If convicted of violating our surveillance requirement, offenders face a maximum fine of Bt2,000,” he said.

He said the incubation period of Ebola was 21 days, and so was the surveillance period.

As of press time, police and health officials were searching for Sesay in various areas.

Immigration officials said there was no record of him having left Thailand.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Top 10

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia

The Thaiger

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Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | The Thaiger

Tropical nights, curious mountain silhouettes, sprawling rice paddies and exotic cuisine. You’ll also find some snow-topped mountains as well. The Thaiger has selected the Top Ten of these camera-worthy towns. Southern Asia is a concoction of the ancient, very modern, traditional and enigmatic. Amongst the islands, megacities and spectacular scenery, there are also some very pretty towns that deserve your days pottering around and investigating. Some of them you would have never heard of. Here’s our Thaiger Top Ten must-see towns in Asia, in no particular oder…

Old Phuket Town, Thailand

Most tourists head for the beaches, but the southern Thai island of Phuket offers a lot, lot more these days up and down the west coast and across to the island’s east coast as well, not just Patong. The historic old quarter of Old Phuket Town, located in the central east coast of the island, is lined with Sino-Portugeuse colonial shophouses, built during the island’s tin-mining boom of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Twenty years ago you couldn’t give them away. Now the old shop-houses are hot property and getting spruced up and re-used for a new generation of tourists and culture vultures. There are plenty of hip shops, cafés, restaurants, bars, art galleries and book shops. The area is also filled with Chinese temples, crumbling mansions and cultural museums.

Check out the weekly Sunday night ‘Lard Yai’ market along Thalang road for some local market vibes in amongst some local ephemera, astonishing Thai street food, some local performers and a few bargains. Kicks off around 4pm. If it rains during the island’s wet season (May to November), you’ll get wet but it’s always around 30 degrees C and you can duck undercover anywhere around the Old Town’s sidewalks.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Galle, Sri Lanka

On the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka is the walled town of Galle, an important trade port for centuries.

The UNESCO-listed fortress has been through three bouts of colonial rule – the Portuguese from 1505-1658, the Dutch from 1658-1796 and the British from 1796-1948. These days, many of the old merchant houses are renovated into museums, boutique hotels, shops, restaurants and bars.

The dining scene has grown in breadth and popularity, with fresh seafood, excellent Sri Lankan curries and egg hoppers (dome-like pancakes). There’s also plenty to see as you walk off all that food. The Dutch Reformed Church, Sudharmalaya Temple, Galle Clock Tower, Galle Lighthouse, Meeran Mosque and the old Spice Warehouse. Then head down the southern coastline to enjoy the surf, diving, whale-watching or just laying around Unawatuna Beach.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

City of Vigan, Philippines

Experience a rich history of Spanish colonial-era architecture in the city of Vigan. It lies on the west coast of Luzon island in northwestern Philippines. Vigan was established by the Spanish in 1572. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage City.

Conquistador Juan de Salcedo developed a modern grid plan for the city, and Spanish architects designed beautiful churches, grand mansions and schools with unique windows and dark timber interiors.

Most of the colonial buildings are situated around the Plaza Salcedo, including the St Paul’s Cathedral. This beautiful Baroque structure was first built in 1641 and then restored after several earthquakes and fires.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Hoi An, Vietnam

Located on the central coast of Vietnam, about 40 minutes drive south of Da Nang, Hoi An’s Old Town has an international reputation as a haven for photographers, architecture lovers and lovers of food. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1999, the town was a former French colonial trading port that has been a commercially vital town for Vietnam since the 16th century. It’s now more important to Vietnam as a commercially vital tourist magnet.

The rambling narrow streets of Hoi An feature rows and rows of charming mustard coloured old trading houses. Many are now trendy restaurants, bars, design boutiques, coffee shops and tailors. Seemingly with a production designer preparing the town as a set for a ‘colonial asian’ movie, lush foliage spills from the rooftops and silk lanterns light up the town at night. It’s right out of a picture book.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

George Town, Malaysia

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, the sprawling historic quarter of George Town on Penang island showcases its many cultural influences over the centuries. You’ll also find some similarity with Phuket’s Old Town, just 600 kilometres north, but with a broader cuisine and more colonial influence.

George Town’s colourful heritage traces back 500 years when the former British colony was a prominent hub of trade on the Malacca Strait, enabling cultural exchange between Malay, Chinese, Indian and European residents. The town still resinates with influences from all of these cultures. There is an eclectic mix of pastel-hued shophouses, Chinese mansions, churches and temples, colonial buildings, food and fortresses.

George Town deserves its reputation as the “food capital of Malaysia” and remains one of the best food cities in Asia – from street food to hawker centres, chintzy local restaurants to fully renovated mansions serving up high end fusion cuisine. Like the architecture, the local cuisine captures George Town’s multicultural history.

If you’re heading to George Town, take your appetite.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Luang Prabang, Laos

The former capital of Laos on the banks of the Mekong River, is the picturesque Luang Prabang, home to temples and dramatic natural scenery.

It’s either one of Southeast Asia’s most spiritual places or an emerging party town for the backpacker set, or both. Either way Luang Prabang makes a dramatic first impression.

The town is hugged by mountains as it rests at the bottom of a valley in central Laos. The location was the first kingdom in Laos from the 14th to 16th centuries, Luang Prabang was long a strategic location along the famed Silk Route. Since then the French have also had their time as colonial overlords which has resulted in a fusion of European and Laotian architecture creating a distinct townscape.

Although Vientiane, on the Thai border, is now the capital, Luang Prabang, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, continues to be the country’s cultural and artistic capital.

In addition to the graceful architecture, Luang Prabang is also home to beautiful natural attractions including the Kuang Si Waterfalls and Phousi Mountain. There are also more than 30 Buddhist temples, the Royal Palace Museum, night markets, river boat rides and biking tours.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Kampot, Cambodia

Think Cambodia and you automatically think ‘Angkor Wat’, but Cambodian travellers are falling in love with the southern charms of Kampot.

The serene coastal town, on the southern coast along the Gulf of Thailand, is getting a reputation as one of the prettiest small towns in the region. Think colourful French colonial shophouses, tidy pedestrian-friendly streets, river activities and a feast for the cameras. You can spend your days kayaking, mountain trekking, biking, river cruises, paddle-boarding, or you could take a day trip through the countryside’s lush paddy fields, cave temples and waterfalls.

Kampot has a growing foodie reputation as a culinary playground with everything from traditional Khmer cuisine to vegan delights. The town still has a bit of a ‘rough’ reputation but is well worth a visit and certainly deserves its place amongst the top ten prettiest towns in Asia.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Kota Gede, Indonesia

Among the oldest parts of Yogyakarta in central Java, Kota Gede is known for its silver industry, cute laneways and photogenic architecture.

The location’s history goes back to the 15th century, when Yogjakarta was the seat of the Mataram Sultanate, the last kingdom before the Dutch colonised Java island. Wealthy merchants built palatial homes in the Kalang style, a mix of Dutch structural elements, traditional Javanese layouts and local craftsmanship.

Travellers in the 21st century can now walk along Jalan Kemasan and browse through boutiques, art galleries and silver workshops showcasing the famous jewellery and elaborate tableware. For a little history, travellers can also venture out to Yogyakarta’s most famous UNESCO-listed landmarks – the Prambanan Temple and the eighth-century Borobudur Temple.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Mawlynnong, India

In amongst one of the world’s most chaotic and messy countries, lies Mawlynnong, located in the East Khasi Hills of northeastern India, which has been named the “Cleanest Village in Asia”. Go figure!

The village lives up to its reputation thanks to the Khasi community who call the town ‘home’ and take great pride in keeping the village pristine. The town is famous for its meticulously pruned gardens.

There’s a popular 85 foot high tree house called Sky View constructed of bamboo that overlooks the jungle canopies all the way across the plains of Bangladesh to the south. There’s also the Mawlynnong Waterfall, while a living tree root bridge creating a scene from Game of Thrones or an Indiana Jones movie.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

Ghandruk, Nepal

Ghandruk is a mountain village at the foothills of the Himalayas in central Nepal. The village is more than 2,000 metres above sea level, the highest in our Top Ten list.

The village is about a five-hour hike from Pokhara, a pretty lakeside city in central Nepal that acts as the starting point for the popular Annapurna Circuit (and also worthy of a visit for a few days). You’ll find traditional tea houses, a mountain-top temple, horseback riding and the local customs of the Gurung people who live here.

Members of this Nepalese community have served in the British Army’s Gurkha regiments during many conflicts and you should make time to visit the Old Gurung Museum which provides lots of fascinating historical insights.

And the village has quite a spectacular backdrop with Mounts Annapurna, Machhapuchhre and Himalchuli looming large as you look over your shoulder.

Top 10 must-see towns in Asia | News by The Thaiger

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Visa

New visa amnesty allows foreigners to stay in Thailand until October 31, with 60 day extensions

The Thaiger

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New visa amnesty allows foreigners to stay in Thailand until October 31, with 60 day extensions | The Thaiger

The visa amnesty, twice extended, expired on September 26. Then another amnesty was launched yesterday which allows foreigners, without visas or with lapsed visas, until October 31 to sort out their visa situation. The grace period acknowledges the problems many foreigners are having organising flights back to their home countries at a time much of the world has an acceleration of cases. Extensions will now be 60 days each.

Dr. Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesperson for the CCSA, read a message from the Thai PM.

“As Covid-19 is still causing harm and there are many infections around the world, more than 30 million cases, some foreigners have to stay in Thailand, and cannot travel out of the Kingdom of Thailand to go back to their home countries, and they cannot follow Section 35 and Section 37 (5) of the Immigration Act 2522 and other related laws.”

Up to the end of last week, Thai Immigration officials predicted there were some 150,000 foreigners still in Thailand without a valid visa.

In July, following weeks in April and May when much of Thailand was in a lockdown, immigration officials granted automatic visa extensions to September 26. In the lead up to last Saturday’s sunset of the visa amnesty, many foreigners jumped through the Immigration department’s hoops to either get a new visa, or a 30 day extension to their old visa. The last minute rush caused confusion, queues and pleas for another extension.

Now, a new immigration regulation will allow foreigners to apply for 60 day extensions to stay in Thailand if they are “unable to leave due to limited flights or other issues”. The extensions, prior to this announcement, required a letter from applicants’ embassy and a payment of 1,900 baht. The extension was only applicable for 30 days. The new extensions will last for 60 days.

Front line immigration officials, expats and visitors alike will feel aggrieved this morning after the announcement. Officers had to face long lines of angry and confused foreigners last week at their offices around the country. Now the countdown starts again as it ticks down to the October 31 date for foreigners to get their visa affairs in order.

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Thailand

Former party-list MP candidate convicted of drug smuggling, sentenced to 50 years in prison

Caitlin Ashworth

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Former party-list MP candidate convicted of drug smuggling, sentenced to 50 years in prison | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

A former party-list MP candidate is sentenced to 50 years in prison for smuggling crystal methamphetamine. Suban Mahachanon was on the MP candidate list for Seri Ruam Thai Party in the March 2019 election, but his bid was unsuccessful. Just a few months later, he arrested for drug trafficking a large amount of methamphetamine into the Philippines.

Suban was busted when a fire broke out at Chon Buri’s Laem Chabang sea port, damagin shipping containers at the port. Police inspected the scene after the fire and found a container rented under Suban’s name was carrying 985 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in Emperor brand tea packages. The shipping container also had boxes of shoes and bags of chopsticks, all ready to be shipped out to the Philippines.

Police also arrested 3 other men involved in trafficking the methamphetamine. Along with sentencing Suban to 50 years in prison, the Criminal Court also sentenced 2 Chinese nationals, 25 year old Huang Guoxiong and 45 year old Zhou Qingchu, to life in prison and a Thai man, 62 year old Joi Sae Fong, to 50 years in prison.

At first, the Court sentenced the 2 Chinese men to death, but it was lowered to life in prison. The Bangkok Post says the 2 men were responsible for concealing the drugs and loading the container. The Thai man Joi, also rented the container under his name with Suban. Joi and Suban were initially sentenced to life in prison. Their sentences were reduced to 50 years in prison.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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