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A Decade Ago: Marking the one year anniversary of the tsunami

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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A Decade Ago: Marking the one year anniversary of the tsunami | The Thaiger

PHUKET: On an island accustomed to horrific, devastating and dumbfoundingly absurd news, the page one lead story that captured the hearts of Phuket Gazette readers a decade ago was one of recovery and love – who says good news can’t sell?

With uncharacteristic typographical enthusiasm (underlined and accompanied by an exclamation mark), the headline in the December 31, 2005 – January 6, 2006 issue of the Gazette read, ‘SHE SAID YES!

Tsunami victim to wed doctor who looked after him’. Though born in the same town in Israel – Ramat Gan – Rom Bombiger didn’t meet Dorit Nitzan until she started helping him recover from the trauma of the tsunami at Bangkok Hospital Phuket – one year later he proposed.

Similar to the issue of the Gazette you’re holding right now, the Dec 31-Jan 6 issue ten years ago paused to reflect on a year past; a year that was fraught with the pains of recovering from the tsunami:

“The news in 2005 was dominated by the tsunami and its aftermath. The main headline in the first edition of the Gazette in January said, ‘Relief effort begins’. Businesses nationwide donated goods and services to the giant waves’ victims, bringing much needed relief. Meanwhile, the arduous task of identifying the dead began… The government pumped 20 million baht into the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) coffers in order to provide assistance to tourists in the six tsunami-affected provinces… Despite the catastrophe, tentative optimism emerged in early January, with bold government claims of being able to set up a disaster warning center by the end of the month – as well as the TAT’s proclamations that it would send teams to Europe, publicizing Phuket’s recovery.”

Though the promise of the warning system being online within a month fell short of reality by several years, the tourism sector did miraculously recover. As explored in this issue of the Gazette, the island’s resilience seems to be second to none. Military rule, travel warnings, threats of possible terrorist attacks, shark bites and other sensational news that would appear to be capable of dealing a crippling blow to the province rolled off its protective bubble like a drop of water on a rain jacket this year.

Surprisingly, in-tune with the future needs of the island, then-Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura spoke to the Gazette about what he would like to see happen in 2006. He called for the island to better coordinate the many facets of development into a single concept in order to propel the province forward.

“There are many separate and different aspects, such as tourism, health tourism, Phuket’s marinas and the island’s overall development. We need to combine all these concepts and link them so that Phuket becomes a top-class destination and one in which people will invest,” he said.

Though officials are still juggling numerous projects as they continue to deal with the province’s growing pains, this year has seen a unified push – with strong backing from Bangkok – toward a single image of what Phuket will be as we enter the Asean Economic Community. The strong focus in the marine tourism sector is expected to deliver fruits to those that have been patiently tending to it, especially now that the government-backed Thailand Yacht Show prepares to set sail in early 2016.

What the editors of the Gazette will think of our current predicament with 10 years of hindsight, is hard to say. Of course, if we jump into the Gazette‘s ‘The Time Machine’, a backward glance from a decade ago – giving ourselves double-bump back to 2000, we find a headline that seems as if it could have been written any time within the last 20 years: Patong’s allure fades as many problems grow unchecked.

And though the concerns are familiar – parking, road safety, flooding and touts – only a few of those expats that can recall in their mind’s eye images of the rice paddies and wandering water buffalo that once dominated Patong, will be able to truly recall how drastically different the magnitude of problems being tabled at the turn of the millennium were from those we face today.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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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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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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