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High fliers in Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PHUKET: From May 21-23, Phuket will be playing host to its first-ever paragliding competition.

Approximately 40 contestants from countries around the world are expected to arrive for the event.

Among the challenges that will await the contestants are spot landings, passing gates, fun flights and even fancy dress flying. There will also be a photo contest by lead sponsors Canon.

In addition to Canon, this colorful and exciting event is sponsored by Phuket Province, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and several local businesses.

The Phuket Gazette and its television arm PGTV are the media sponsors and will be covering the event from the air above the action.

Those who want to watch the contest live should head down to Naiharn Beach between 8:00 and 18:00.

Early bird deals for Phuket Race Week

yacht.e.com
Registration is now open for Six Senses Phuket Race Week, and the provisional Notice of Race has been posted on line.

The popular and ever-growing event includes five nights of renowned regatta parties, combined with four days of high-octane yacht racing in the south-west monsoon season.

This year’s Race Week (21 to 25 July at the Evason Phuket Resort) will run back-to-back with the Ao Chalong Yacht Club (ACYC) Multihull Challenge, which is expected to attract up to 20 catamarans and trimarans from around Thailand.

For further information and to register, see the regatta website where high-value ‘early bird’ discounts on entry fees are now on offer for boats and crew.

And a first this year is the chance to win back entry fees for boat and full crew, courtesy of Global Investments (Far East) – but only if you beat the early bird deadline.

The Phuket Gazette, PGTV and The Nation are charter sponsors of this event and will again be covering it daily, this year not only on ground and water, but also from the air.

Special rates at Outrigger Phuket

Etravelblackboard
Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort and Villas has announced special Summer rates for guests staying in May or June this year.

The 68-villa Outrigger property is part of the Laguna Destination Resort Phuket at Bang Tao Beach. The two-bedroom villa is 4,000 baht per night, with the three- and four-bedroom pool villas now only 7,000 and 11,000 a night, respectively.

The rates include an in-room daily continental breakfast.

In a separate development, Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort and Villas have joined the JAL ‘Mileage Bank’ program, and are offering 1,000 miles per stay, double the normal miles awarded for stays at the applicable paid rates. The offer expires 21 December 2010.

Red shirts and army clash

The Times
A Thai soldier was shot in the head as the army clashed with anti-government protesters yesterday.

At least 10 people were injured when Thai troops fired over and into the crowd of Red Shirts who were charging at them with home-made weapons in a northern suburb of Bangkok.

It was not immediately clear if Thai troops were shooting live rounds or rubber bullets in their attempts to prevent the protesters from expanding their demonstrations.

The clash occurred at a section of Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road on the northern outskirts of Bangkok. Security forces had blocked that area with razor wire.

Tough words on protests

The Telegraph
Thai Army spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said last night that security forces were ready and waiting “for the right time” to retake the Red Shirt’s rally area, which has paralysed a chunk of Bangkok’s central commercial district.

“We are ready to fight to the death, so why don’t we set the date for [the] crackdown,” countered protest leader Nattawut Saikua.

The government has said it would not tolerate any further road blocks set up by protesters to prevent more troops from heading into Bangkok.

More from Nattawut

Buffalo News
“Bangkok people, please understand we did not want it to affect you, but we only want safety,” said Nattawut Saikua, the red-shirted protest leader growing famous for firebrand remarks.

Nattawut said the Red Shirts planned to spread out into other parts of the city, sending teams with speaker trucks to distribute leaflets and videos explaining the protesters’ side of the story.

“We’ll go out everyday until the government dissolves Parliament and returns power to the people…. If there are police and military units blocking the way, using weapons, we are going to fight with peaceful means,” Nattawut said.

ASEAN fears ‘domino effect’

Voice of America News
Thailand’s neighbors are watching the political unrest in Bangkok with growing concern.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has said the protests in Thailand could spread economic and political instability throughout the region.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah says he is concerned that the instability in Thailand could lead to a repeat of the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

Faizasyah says ASEAN’s tradition of non-interference in members’ affairs and the Thai government’s unwillingness to ask for help, will stifle any regional mediation effort.

What Thailand’s neighbors can do to prevent similar protest movements from spreading, he says, is to “address the concerns of the poor and disenfranchised in their own countries.”

— Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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