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Long Live The King

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: In honor of HM Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 80th birthday today, more than 100 yachts taking part in the 21st King’s Cup Regatta completed a sail-past salute before taking to deeper waters for today’s racing.

If it were not for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej being a keen yachtsman and master craftsman of sailing dinghies, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta would not exist and would not have become Asia’s largest sailing event.

In 1965, HM The King introduced dinghy sailing to the Kingdom. Having learned woodworking skills as a schoolboy in Switzerland, he turned his hand to boat building – a passion that he indulged in with long-time associate Prince Bhisadej Rajani when free from his royal duties.

In the space of a few years, HM The King designed, crafted and sailed seven boats in all, the first being a dinghy made to International Enterprise Class specifications and aptly named Rajpatan (Royal Patent) and registered as dinghy number E 11111.

His Majesty proved the dinghy himself on the pond at Chitralada Palace in Bangkok, where he had converted one of the palace rooms into a workshop to build the boat with Prince Bhisadej.

The new boat weighed 95 kilograms, was four meters long and about 1.5 meters across at its widest point. On his first outing on Rajpatan with Prince Bhisadej as crew and coach, HM The King demonstrated a natural flair for sailing with the skills of an experienced sailor. Carrying out a perfect gybe on one of the dinghy’s first Chitralada Palace pond trials, His Majesty remained high and dry while the maneuver left his royal helmsman behind in the water.

A year later in 1966, a visit from first-class sailor the Duke of Edinburgh, HRH Prince Philip of Great Britain, was cause for a regatta at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya. The 27-strong fleet raced around Koh Larn for the royal race. Prince Bhisadej, paired with HM The King, finished first on Rajpatan.

Prince Philip is said to have had a most enjoyable outing with HM The King and upon returning to England, the duke shipped a catamaran to the king, the first of its kind to enter Thailand. His Majesty named the boat Pladuek, a play on words with the Thai word for catfish, “cat” for catamaran and “duek” as in duke.

Hooked on dinghy design and sailing, HM The King also built an OK Class dinghy, naming it Vega 1, which he single-handedly sailed 60 nautical miles from Hua Hin to Toey Harbor in Sattahip, in a testing 14-hour journey.

Inspired to come up with his own unique design based on the Mod class that would better fit the Thai physique, HM The King created the three-meter Super Mod V. The smaller-than-usual design of Mod Class dinghy was at first looked upon with skepticism, but later proved to be a winning adaptation.

The Super Mod V was later accepted as an official class in the 13th Asian Games in 1985 and sailed the Thai team to victory in that year. Sailing HM The King’s new design, Thailand won all six races in the games, plus a gold medal for that class.

HM The King’s eldest daughter, HRH Princess Ubol Rattana, also shares her father’s passion for sailing, which has seen the royal father-and-daughter team win medals for their country. Between them, HM The King and Princess Ubol won gold medals for their nautical skills when they sailed under the Thai flag in the single-handed OK dinghy section at the fourth Southeast Asia Peninsula Games in Pattaya Bay.

The gold medals were presented to King Bhumibol and Princess Ubol by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit at the National Stadium on December 16, 1967. The date marked the birth of Thailand’s National Sports Day in honor of the king.

As the pressures of royal duties increased for a monarch so dedicated to his country and people, boat building and sailing soon became activities that he didn’t have the leisure time to pursue.

In November 1967, HM The King produced a Moke, the last of the seven sailing boats he built, but he was rarely seen sailing after that.

On the rare occasions when he joined friends on the water, sailing was one of those royal pursuits where formalities were usually put aside and playful banter was the order of the day. HM The King has always been admired by his people for his many creative talents. Not only did he feel at home in the workshop, HM The King is also an accomplished jazz musician and composer, photographer and painter.

As with many of His Majesty’s creative and athletic hobbies, HM The King has encouraged his people to also follow such pursuits.

Following his lead, the nation has embraced sailing and it has become a popular sport.

HM The King granted royal permission to the Royal Thai Navy Sailing Club to manufacture the Mod and the Super Mod designs to be sold at reasonable prices so more people could enjoy the pleasures of a sport that puts man at one with the elements. He also founded the Royal Chitralada Yacht Squadron, while the Royal Varuna Yacht Club received His Majesty’s royal patronage.

The King’s Cup Regatta was inaugurated in 1987 to celebrate the 60th birthday of HM The King and has been held in his honor every year since.

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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

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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