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Aussie attempts epic endurance sport feat in Phuket [video]

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Aussie attempts epic endurance sport feat in Phuket [video] | The Thaiger

PHUKET: An Australian living and training on Phuket will make an epic endurance sport attempt tomorrow as he embarks on a three-day, non-stop triple circumnavigation of Phuket by prone paddleboarding, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and running.

Damien Rider, 40, already made headlines in Phuket when he completed a local SUP adventure, circling the island to raise awareness for his self-funded organization: Paddle Against Child Abuse (story here). Prior to this, he found himself in international headlines as he paddled 800km of shark-infested waters off the east coast of Australia. The epic journey has been captured in the recently released National Geographic documentary ‘Heart of the Sea’.

“January third is World Paddle Day and will be one year to the day that I did my original 800km paddle,” Mr Rider told the Phuket Gazette this week. “I want to continue pushing myself and showing others what is possible when you put your mind to it. It seems that if I do extreme events, people get motivated to get started to be active.”

The new-age, paddle-packed triathlon will be the first of its kind for Mr Rider, Phuket and perhaps the world. Mr Rider confessed that he was unaware of anyone else having linked the three endurance sports together for a similar challenge anywhere else on Earth.

The first test for Mr Rider will be the stifling heat that has settled over Phuket within the last few days, making hydration and nutrition critical components to his strategy. Even with proper water and fuelling, sleep deprivation during the 72-hour attempt will take a devastating toll on the Aussie.

“Sleep deprivation is something tough to train for as it takes a lot out of you and a long time to recover from even 24 hours. I just have to do it and push through. I’ve really had to mix up my training by training at Unit 27, Phuket Raw Gym, and Phuket Fit,” Mr Rider said. “Going through the night will be a test of the unknown that I will have to face. I don’t know the coastline very well, but I’m hoping I can follow moored boat lights to help guide me.”

During his last Phuket challenge, Mr Rider took a relaxed 3.5 days to circumnavigation the island, sleeping where he could pull in for the night (story here). And though he’s going to have to drop a lot of time from his most recent challenge, he’s confident that the knowledge of basic landmarks and a faster 17’6 Starboard Sprint board will make the difference.

Damien Rider successfully completed his first challenge in Phuket, which was the circumnavigation of the island by SUP in four days. Video: PGTV

“If people see me, they can join in,” Mr Ride said, as if in hopes of re-create the Forest Gump run. “I have a couple of mates, Darren Sherbain from Old Dawg Coaching and Christian Griffith from Live For A Living, doing the 130km run with me on day three.”

The 130km run is just a little more than three times the distance of a standard marathon, which is 42.2km.

Unlike his solo prone paddle in Australia and his SUP challenge in Phuket, Mr Rider will have a land support team working with him for this event.

“They will be there so I don’t have to carry as much weight on me or the board, and also to watch my condition as I move along, especially after day two.”

Those wanting regular updates as the endurance sport challenge unfolds can check the Facebook page ‘430 km in 3 Days’.

— 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

Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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