Thailand’s Deputy PM, and loyal political sidekick to the PM Prayut, Prawit Wongsuwan, has met with China’s new ambassador to discuss continued cooperation between China and Thailand. The new Ambassador of China Han Zhiqiang visited the Thai Deputy Prime Minister in a staged courtesy call where the pair discussed a variety of topics.The 2 discussed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that was created between China and Thailand in hopes of overcoming the pandemic and moving forward to the future. On a broader scale, the leaders also talked about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, better known as APEC, as Thailand takes over the leadership reins as this year’s chair of the organisation.Prawit also expressed hope that China’s President Xi Jinping would attend this year’s APEC Summit that Thailand will host later in the year.There may be a new method to determine who is most vulnerable during the pandemic, as a gene has been identified by Polish scientists that more than doubles the risk of serious Covid infection. The scientists behind the discovery hope that being able to identify people who are at greater risk might prompt them to get vaccinated if they have not already.In Central and Eastern Europe especially, vaccine hesitancy is driving higher death rates from the pandemic. But if a test can determine that someone is at high risk for serious infection, it may encourage them to get vaccinated.Scientists around the world have been studying the genetic factors that can influence the severity of a Covid-19 infection. British scientists identified a gene in November that they believe might double the risk of lung failure if someone is infected with Covid-19. In fact, they believe that this gene is fourth only to age, weight, and gender in influence over the severity of infection.As pork prices continue to surge across Thailand, locals are turning to…. Go on, try and guess (pause). CROCODILE! Yes, eating crocodile as an alternate source of meat whilst they wait for the prices of pork to drop.The pig price premiums are the result of the controversial spread of the African Swine Fever that has led to pig shortages and, in turn, pork shortages. And, when the cost of pigs start to fly, people turn to alternative sources of meat and protein. Enter the scaly, and slightly less easily handled crocodile.Now, at least one crocodile farm is offering meat from their giant reptiles at 70 baht per kilogram. With the price of hog hiked high to over 200 baht per kilogram at the moment, people are getting on board with acquiring a taste for crocodile meat.While considered a somewhat exotic meat, crocodile meat sticks can often be found on food markets grills, especially in touristy areas, making it not completely uncommon. Many say that it has a similar flavour to chicken even. And it is a relatively healthy meat, lean, and high in protein, making it a nutritious and affordable option.Other crocodile farms around the country, including one in the Greater Bangkok province of Nakhon Pathom, have indicated they are receiving increased interest from customers seeking crocodile as a cheaper substitute for pork products.PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is urging all government agencies to get behind the “Amazing Thailand New Chapter” tourism campaign being readied for launch by the end of January. The administration is pushing forward with tourism plans that the floundering tourist economy so desperately needs, despite the growing spread of the Omicron variant and Covid-19 infections across the country.Tourism officials are still confidently predicting between 5 million and 15 million people travelling to Thailand in 2022, with the caveat that there are no new lockdowns or border closures during the year. And the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Ministry plan on aggressively launching other campaigns aimed at boosting domestic tourism as well. Like a scene out of an adventure movie, a 43 year old man stumbled out of a clearing in eucalyptus and rubber plantations to recount an incredible 21 day journey he spent lost in the wilderness and fleeing from wild elephants. The tale took place in Prachin Buri, the central province to the east of Bangkok after the man, Thongsa Wanthumma, went missing on December 22.Police searched for the missing man and turned up his motorbike 5 days later on December 27.Thongsa said that he had abandoned his bike in a panic while he was driving along a trail in the middle of the eucalyptus plantation when he was shocked by a large herd of wild elephants. Afraid of being trampled, the man jumped off his bike and ran into the rubber and eucalyptus fields to escape the elephants.His tale continues as he searched for an exit or a road, repeatedly encountering wild elephants.He spent the next 3 weeks trying to avoid crossing paths with the elephant herds roaming the area with him. He told police he survived by eating sour leaves and drank from ponds and irrigation canals, sleeping on mounds of leaves.No doubt the Thai news channels have their cheque books out at the moment for an exclusive on the man’s 21 days in the wilderness.Four men wanted for killing two Bengal tigers found skinned at a jungle camp near the Burmese border, have surrendered to police. They claim the tigers had preyed regularly on their cattle, so they used a dead cow the tigers had killed as bait and then shot them with borrowed guns. They told police that in the past two months, tigers had killed and eaten about 20 of their cows.National park rangers seized the tiger pelts of two Bengal tigers, guns and ammunition at a campsite near the Burmese border on January 9.The hunters fled, leaving meat from the tigers cooking on a grill. The four have been taken to Thong Pha Phum police station for questioning over the incident.To some regional news, and if you’re in the Philippines, you’ll need to show your vaccination certificate to use public transportation in the country’s capital Manila. The Philippine’s new “no vaccine, no ride” policy prohibits those who are unvaccinated from riding public transportation in the capital starting next week.The controversial restriction was enacted after a fresh wave of Covid cases continues to skyrocket, reaching a total of around 3 million infections this week, fuelled by the highly transmissible, bet less lethal, Omicron variant.From January 17, only fully vaccinated passengers with documentation of identification and vaccination status are permitted to purchase tickets.Opposition lawmakers, transportation organisations, and human rights organisations are slamming the decree… some saying it has “no legal basis,” and violates the people’s basic rights.And Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has been discharged from hospital after a successful elective medical procedure. Mahathir held office from July 1981 to October 2003 and later from May 2018 to March 2020 …. A total of 24 yearsThis was the second time in less than a month that the 96 year old Tun Dr Mahathir, who has a history of heart ailments, was admitted to hospital.A hospital spokesperson says the elder statesman will continue his recuperation and recovery process at home.
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