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Kiwi travel warning includes 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: Radio New Zealand says that country’s ambassador to Thailand has advised New Zealanders in Bangkok to “strongly consider” leaving the city.

Ambassador Bede Corry says the trouble may spread to other areas like Phuket and that all non-essential travel to Thailand should be deferred.

Mr Corry says ‘red shirts’ from outside Bangkok are in the city, coming in behind the military. He describes the situation as fluid and dangerous.

The New Zealand Embassy has been closed since late last week, as have the American and British embassies. The Australian embassy is also closed until further notice.

A New Zealander working for an ambulance service in Bangkok says the situation is like a civil war and the central city is in chaos.

Phuket jet-ski death case closed

New Straits Times
The Singaporean involved in last month’s fatal jet-ski collision in Phuket has returned home.

The Sunday Times reports that it has learned from the Thai police that the case was officially closed last week.

Mr Tang Jun Han, 20, returned to Singapore about two weeks ago, almost a month after his jet ski crashed into and killed his close friend Loh Ying Jie, also 20, on April 2 at Patong Beach.

Phuket a developers paradise?

Bangkok Post
Patum Design & Develop is aggressively expanding franchises for its homebuilding to offset declining trade in Bangkok. Phuket is one of the main new markets the firm is entering this year after opening a franchise outlet in the resort province last month.

“We’ve seen high purchasing power and a huge demand from professional homebuilders in the self-built home markets outside of Greater Bangkok, especially in Chiang Mai and Phuket,” said chief executive Sitiporn Suwanasut.

Mr Sitiporn said Phuket offers high potential as a market due to the diverse range of buyers.

About 2,000 to 2,400 self-built homes are constructed each year in Phuket, where small local contractors account for 80% to 90% of the market.

Mr Sitiporn said he was not worried about competition with local contractors, however, as the Phuket market was more ‘who has more to offer’.

The firm says it has fielded inquiries from eight clients to build houses worth a total of 40-50 million baht since opening its Phuket office.

Bangkok resembles war zone

Canada.com
Three days of street battles in Bangkok have left at least 33 people dead and 239 wounded.

A luxury hotel overlooking the sprawling protest site came under gunfire earlier this morning and was rattled by an explosion, prompting guests to shelter in the basement.
Three commercial buildings in another area were gutted by fire.

The red shirts, whose vast base in the heart of Bangkok is under siege by troops, said they were ready to enter peace talks with the government “immediately” as long as the United Nations mediated.

The idea was quickly shot down by the government, which has repeatedly warned foreign governments not to meddle in its affairs.

ASEAN critical

Asia One
Singapore warned Saturday that the situation in Bangkok may “slip out of control” amid a flare-up in violence, saying the consequences will be “extremely grave” for Thailand and the ASEAN region.

Unless all parties immediately exercise restraint and resume dialogue, we fear that the situation may slip out of the control of all parties.

Owing to a policy of non-interference, ASEAN states do not normally comment on the internal affairs of fellow members, but analysts say there are signs the regional bloc is slowly easing away from this principle.

Singapore also reminded its citizens against non-essential travel to Bangkok and advised those who are already in the Thai capital to stay indoors.

— Gazette Editors

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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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