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Go-Eco Phuket dives for biggest reef cleanup in world

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Go-Eco Phuket dives for biggest reef cleanup in world | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Qualifiers keep dropping with Go-Eco Phuket as the environmental group prepares for its official launch on September 30 with the biggest reef cleanup of any kind in the world.

“On September 30, the eyes of the world will be attracted to Phuket,” Tony Andrews, Thailand’s West coast PADI Regional Manager and Project AWARE Ambassador, said at a press conference with Phuket government officials at Kata Beach Resort today.

The Go-Eco Phuket, PADI and Project AWARE-sponsored “Dive Against Debris” event has 14 PADI dive boats and more than 450 participants signed up to sweep the reefs off Koh Racha Noi, Koh Racha Yai, Phi Phi Island, Koh Khao Nok and Koh Hei (“Coral Island”) clean of marine debris.

Of those participants, more than 280 are divers prepared to tackle the underwater debris, while the rest have volunteered to either help as snorkelers or with beach cleanups on Koh Racha Noi.

“The government officials were interested as soon as we met them. They thought it was a great idea and were proud of the dive companies and community,” Narong Chaimo, who acted as liaison between Thai officials and the Go-Eco Phuket group, told the Phuket Gazette today

More than 12 government offices and departments have pledged support for the project, from Chalong Municipality providing waste management for all the debris from the pier to the Royal Thai Navy sending three warships to maintain a perimeter to protect divers from speedboats that frequent the islands.

“We are pleased to help by disposing of the rubbish from the pier,” Chalong Mayor Samran Jindaphol said.

Once the rubbish is brought up from the reef it will be sorted into categories, such as fishing nets, plastics and so on, so it can be accurately documented, explained Mr Andrews.

“Go-Eco Phuket’s goal is to safely remove the debris from the reefs and beaches of Phuket and other surrounding islands,” Mr Andrews said.

The long-term goal of the event is to mobilize divers from around to the world to the return the surrounding reefs to a clean, healthy state.

“We had a strong dream of making the reefs of Phuket and the surrounding islands clean, pristine and sustainable, and making sure they belong in the top diving destinations in Thailand and the world,” Mr Andrews said.

Vice Admiral Taratorn Kajitsuwan, Commander of the Navy Third Area Command at their base at Cape Panwa, pointed out that when Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra previously visited the island, she had made it clear that eco-tourism was a must for Phuket.

“One of my priorities is to help [support eco-tourism efforts], and this project goes hand in hand with PM Yingluck’s vision of improving tourism and our country,” he said.

“Everyone is glad that Thais and foreigners have so much interest in the local environment,” he added.

During the meeting, a spokesperson for the Phuket Marine Biological Center highlighted to government officials the problem of “ghost fishing”.

Ghost fishing happens when nets become snagged on corals and are left behind by fishermen, but continue to catch and kill marine animals, he explained.

“These nets effect the entire development of reef system,” he said.

Noting that the issue of marine debris was a global concern, he said, “We hope we can show the world that Phuket can do it [cleanup the coral reefs], so it can be done everywhere else, too.”

The meeting also provided a forum for officials concerned about the current conditions of the marine ecosystem around Phuket.

“We will try to instigate a system to regulate and prevent boats from dumping rubbish,” a spokesperson for the Marine Department office in Phuket offered.

Pamuke Achariyachai, of event sponsor Kata Beach Group, invited the public to put forward more ideas to promote eco-tourism on the island.

“We will always support local events like this… should there be any other ideas for eco-tourism, the Kata Group would be interested in helping,” he said.

“We can show the world that Phuket is on the map for diving,” Mr Andrews said.

“But it’s really about what happens after September 30,” Mr Andrews added.

On September 30, registration for the event will start at 7:30am at the new marina building on Chalong Pier.

At 8am, Governor Tri Augkaradacha, in his last day in office as Phuket Governor, along with other high-ranking officials will formally launch Go-Eco Phuket’s inaugural event.

An after party for participants will be held at Kan-Eang 2 at 6pm. A Thai-style buffet will start at 6:30pm and the raffle for a variety of dive goods and other contributions will start at 7pm.

RNR Eco Adventures and Dive Resort is sponsoring the night’s entertainment by bringing together Legend Recording Studio’s Dark Fiber and Legends of Siam, as well as the Rocking Angels band and DJ Tank, with a special performance by Ricky Zen.

Drinks will be provided by Molly Malones, Phuket Beer and Chang Beer.

The event will run to 11pm.

The cleanup is sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and will be covered on national television (UBC/True Visions, channel 99) by the Gazette’s new show “Phuket Today”. The show airs six times per week. For the schedule, see October’s True Visions programming guide.

Businesses interested in joining the Gazette as a sponsor of “Dive Against Debris” are invited to contact any local PADI dive center, or Tony Andrews, Regional Manager of PADI, by email at [email protected]

— Isaac Stone Simonelli



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Phuket

54 year old Swede dodges traffic in Thepkasattri Road, Phuket

The Thaiger

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54 year old Swede dodges traffic in Thepkasattri Road, Phuket | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Achadtaya Chuenniran

A 54 year old Swedish tourist is now in custody after running around Thepkasattri road yesterday morning dodging cars and causing traffic mayhem. Luckily no cars came in contact with the man police described as ‘mentally ill’.

A video clip from the incident shows the man running in and out of the traffic on Thepkasattri Road in Thalang. The incident happened around 2.30am.

The road had to be closed for 20-30 minutes as police apprehended the man, unhurt. The motive for his dangerous antics have not become apparent at this stage.

The man, who remains named was taken to Thalang Hospital for checking then was transferred to Vachira Hospital in Phuket Town. Police revealed that his visa expired on the same day so they’ve contacted the local Swedish consular officials to check on the man’s family and travel situation.

The Swede is currently being evaluated and treated in the hospital’s psychiatric wing.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Top 10 things to know about Phuket for beginners (2019)

The Thaiger

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Top 10 things to know about Phuket for beginners (2019) | The Thaiger

1. Welcome to Phuket

Phuket is an island and a province. It’s the largest island in Thailand – 48 km north to south, 21 km east to west. It’s about 20% smaller, in area, than Singapore but much less densely populated.  Whilst the island nation of Singapore boasts a population of nearly 6 million, Phuket has a permanent population of around 400-450,000 (but varies a lot with the influx of tourists and a workforce that is always changing). Most of Phuket remains jungle and tropical rainforest despite an acceleration of development over the past 20 years.

Unlike some of Thailand’s other popular islands (that are in the Gulf of Thailand), Phuket is located in the Andaman Sea. Phuket is only just an island, linked to the Thai mainland by a 400 metre bridge. The channel beneath is frequently dredged to maintain Phuket’s status as an island. On the other side of Sarasin Bridge is the Province of Phang Nga.

Phuket is 878 km north of the equator.

Top 10 things to know about Phuket for beginners (2019) | News by The Thaiger

2. Basics

The currency used in Phuket is the Thai Baht and the electricity is 220-240 Volts/50 Hz. Thai is the spoken language although, especially with the west coast businesses and tourist zones, you will get away with English.

Top 10 things to know about Phuket for beginners (2019) | News by The Thaiger

There is one international airport but multiple piers along the east coast for the many day trips to nearby islands. Public transport on Phuket is negligible. There are constant attempts to establish better public transport but the attempts are usually foiled by a strong taxi and tuk tuk monopoly that keep the charges higher and, largely, unregulated. On the upside there’s plenty of taxis and tuk tuks on Phuket but be prepared to bargain and agree your price before you get in despite the taxis being legally required to use a meter.

Hiring cars or a motorbike is easy but we would caution anyone keen to move around the island independently to check their travel or health insurance and to hire from a recommended or reputable company. Roads are fairly good and getting around is easy but the traffic can, at times, be very heavy.

3. Religion

Most of the population is Buddhist, like the rest of Thailand but the island also has a significant Muslim population of around 25-30%. Buddhism on Phuket is influenced by the island’s strong trade links and infusion of Chinese traders and workers over the past 400 years. Then you add the local expats and 12-15 million tourists each year and you have a very diverse mix of religions and backgrounds living on the island at any one time. There are hundreds of Buddhist temples around Phuket.

Top 10 things to know about Phuket for beginners (2019) | News by The Thaiger

4. The name

The name Phuket (poo-KET) is derived from a Malay word bukit, which translates as hill. On European shipping charts it was called Junk Ceylon or Junkceylon which derives from Tanjung Salang in Malay, translating as Cape Salang. Later the island was known as Thalang which, before the southern end and west coast became popular after the 1970s, was the island’s commercial and residential hub.

During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), Phuket was the administrative centre of tin production in the southern provinces. In 1933 Monthon Phuket (มณฑลภูเก็ต) was dissolved and Phuket became a Province. It’s the only island in Thailand which is both an island and a Province.

5. Income

The main source of income in Phuket is tourism, by far. But before the west discovered the island’s pristine west coast beaches in the 1970s, Phuket was know all the way back to the 16th century as a tin-mining hub. (If you drive around Phuket you will see hundreds of small lakes. Most of these are old tin-mines). The island’s tin mining history has been remembered at the Kathu Mining Museum, located on the back road that runs through the hills between Kathu and Koh Keaw. Besides tourism, latex, pineapples, cashew nuts and palm oil are also grown on the island. But, every year, tourism forges ahead as the island’s most reliable income producer.

6. Weather

As a tropical island Phuket is always humid and hot.

Phuket’s weather is fairly reliable. Reliably wet during the monsoon and reliably dry in the dry season. But there are also plenty of variations in the shoulder seasons and, even when it rains, it’s usually brief (and torrential) with lots of sunshine in between.

Top 10 things to know about Phuket for beginners (2019) | News by The Thaiger

The dry season runs from December to April and the monsoon season from May to November. The wettest months, statistically, are May and September. Tourists flock to the island during the dry season when top temperatures range between 31 – 35 (it gets hotter as the dry season months pass), with light winds from the north east.

During the monsoon season the winds swing around to the south west providing rideable surf along some of the west coast beaches. It can also be quite dangerous for inexperienced swimmers so, please, always obey the red flag warnings along the patrolled beaches. Temperatures usually peak at 31 during monsoon season and get down to 20-22 in the evenings.

Consider all this as a guide only as there’s always plenty of variation. But you will never need to pack a coat or warm weather clothes when visiting Phuket.

7. Beaches

Depending on how you count them, there are 36 unique beaches on Phuket. The island’s best known and iconic sandy beaches are along the west coast –  Nai Harn, Patong, Karon, Kata, Kamala, Surin, Bang Tao, Nai Harn and Nai Thon, Nai Yang and Mai Khao up north. The western beaches are fully exposed to the Andaman Sea kicking up some rideable surf in during the annual south-west monsoon.

The east coast is largely mangroves in the north and smaller rocky beaches in the south. But there are a few hidden gems including Laem Ka in Rawai and Ao Yon in Cape Panwa. The east coast looks back towards Krabi and Phang Nga Bay and provides postcard views of the many islands dotted in the waters between Phuket and the mainland.

Top 10 things to know about Phuket for beginners (2019) | News by The Thaiger

8. Main towns

The main commercial centre is Phuket Town. There have been attempts to get the media and locals to refer to it as Phuket City but, well, it’s really just a big town and will likely remain being called Phuket Town. The wider commercial and administrative hub of Phuket, in the centre of the island’s east coast, is built around the older Old Phuket Town.

Two hundred years ago, when Phuket was a bustling hub of trade with many Chinese and international sea-farers passing through, it must have been a bustling port of sailors, traders, miners and locals keen to extract money from them all. By all accounts it was a rough place to live with a busy red light district. These early trading days have left a heritage of sino-portuguese shop houses. Before the 1980s these old shop-houses were in serious need of repair.

Now streets like Thalang, Dibuk, Yowarat and Phang Nga roads are a collection of restored buildings, funky cafés, boutiques, art galleries, book shops and boutique hotels. The area has become a worthy tourist magnet deserving of your time when visiting the island.

Top 10 things to know about Phuket for beginners (2019) | News by The Thaiger

The other main hub is Patong Beach. On the opposite side of the island to Phuket Town, Patong continues to grow and rebrand itself. Once a quiet haven for back-packers it’s now a much bigger haven for back-packers, along with international hotels, 5 star resorts, world-class restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. There are much better beaches on the island of Phuket but no visit to Phuket is complete without a night in Patong. It’s international famous, or infamous, for its colourful and (sometimes) raunchy nightlife.

The main residential areas of Phuket include Kathu, Chalong, Rawai, Cherngtalay, Kamala and Thalang. Whilst the west coast mainly attracts the tourists, the locals live in the south, east, central and northern sections of the island. There is an increasing trend for the island’s attractions and accommodation centres to move inland from the beaches as number of tourism businesses grow and diversify.

9. Events and Festivals

Songkran is on April 13 and celebrates the start of the Thai New Year. It may have started out as a respectful cleansing of the Buddha images in temples but has descended into a water-pistol war zone with roads lined with people throwing water an anyone driving by. If it sounds mad, it is. If you’re in Bangla Road in Patong it keeps going for three or more days. NB. Songkran is not the time to drive your motorbike around Phuket in an Armani suit.

Top 10 things to know about Phuket for beginners (2019) | News by The Thaiger

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival occurs during October, depending on the Chinese lunar calendar each year. It’s a unique, jaw-dropping festival of parades, piercings, fireworks and markets full of vegetarian food. Almost impossible to describe, so we’ll invite you to discover it yourself.

Loy Krathong is in November each year and is celebrated by releasing little (usually hand-made) rafts made of banana leaves, incense and flowers. Just about any waterway on the island becomes a location for families to launch krathongs.

Chinese New Year and the Old Phuket Festival are usually during February each year and celebrate the island’s rich and deep Chinese heritage. Be prepared for lots of excellent street food and fireworks.

10. Topography

Phuket is an island of hills (indeed it was once called bukit which means hill in Malay). Very broadly, there is a range of hills that run down the centre, closer to the west coast, with wider expanses of flat lands on the east side.

The highest points in Phuket are Radar Hill overlooking Patong at 513 metres, and the nearby unnamed hill on the northern side of the road that runs over the hills into Patong. It overlooks Kamala on one side and the Kathu valley on the other and reaches 543 metres. You can drive most of the way up Radar Hill but there’s a military installation at the top. The other hill you can probably hike all the way up to the top but there’s no well-trodden path and you’d need some local advice, a backpack with lots of water and some good walking shoes.

There are a few small but pretty waterfalls on the island – Ton Sai and Bang Pae between Paklok and Thalang to the east and the Kathu Waterfall in the centre. With a distinct wet and dry season on the island you’ll obviously get the best photos in the wet season.

Top 10 things to know about Phuket for beginners (2019) | News by The Thaiger

Some of the hills have their own unique attractions including the Big Buddha overlooking Kata and Karon beaches on one side and Chalong on the other. There’s also Khao Rang (Rang Hill) with restaurants and a specially constructed viewing point. Khao To Sae (Monkey Hill) rises above Phuket Town and is a great place to see the local macaques but DON’T feed or approach the monkeys as they can be quite clever at parting you from your iPhone or expensive camera and have been known to be aggressive at times.

Down south is the southern-most Laem Promthep (Cape Promthep) where tourists flock to watch the sunset each night (we can promise you that you will see exactly the same sunset anywhere along the west coast of the islands if you want to avoid the crowds and tourist buses). It’s also an excellent location during the day.

This is just the start of your exploration of Phuket. We look forward to seeing you on the island soon.

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Police to target motorbike rental shops when renters are unlicensed

The Thaiger

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Police to target motorbike rental shops when renters are unlicensed | The Thaiger

Police are targeting the rental operators of motorbikes when unlicensed foreigners have motorbike accidents.

Police today say they are questioning the renters of the bike involved in Sunday night’s crash on Patong Hill between a pickup truck driven by 47 year old Thavorn Glasueak and a motorbike carrying two Russians, a 29 and 31 year old.

This incident happened at the notorious hair-pin curve on the way up Patong Hill, from Kathu. Police say the motorbike veered out of its lane into the oncoming pickup truck travelling in the other lane.

The two Russians were rushed to Patong Hospital but died.

Meanwhile, the motorbike rental operator that rented out a motorbike to 17 year old British teenager Anthony Ryan last month was fined 2,000.

Anthony was on traveling in Thailand with a friend when he tried to pass traffic on the Kamala to Patong road and drove into an oncoming minivan in the opposite lane.

Read the report of his accident HERE.

Kamala Police report that the rental operator has already been fined 2,000 baht. They also warned other motorbike rental shops to ensure that the riders were properly licensed and took out legal insurance with their rental agreement.

In their defence police claim the rental operator said they had rented out two bikes to a second man that had a valid license. Police didn’t explain what the renter was going to do with the two motorbikes. (And if the renter had a valid license, why was the shop fined?)

At this stage Kamala Police have not named the rental operator in Patong.

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