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Photographer offers B100,000 reward for return of life’s work

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Photographer offers B100,000 reward for return of life’s work | The Thaiger

PHUKET: A professional travel photographer and boutique resort owner in Phuket is offering a 100,000-baht reward for any information leading to the return of his MacBook Pro and backup hard drive – which contain his life’s work.

Brian Skyum, owner of Coco Palace Resort in Rawai, returned to Phuket after five weeks in the Philippines to find his maid was the only staffer still working for him and electronic items worth reportedly more than 500,000 baht were stolen from his room.

Among the items reported missing were an Apple MacBook Pro, two Canon cameras, a tripod, a Panasonic home theater, a 2-terabyte hard disk, a Canon L series lens, a Sony DVD camcorder and a Samsung TV.

On the MacBook Pro and hard drive were 36 years of Mr Skyum’s processed photography from over 170 countries – now all gone.

“I could survive without the half-million baht of monetary value; the photos are all that matter,” Mr Skyum told the Phuket Gazette.

The widely published Danish photographer is the self-proclaimed “widest-travelled person in the world” and, up to this month, he had the photos to prove it.

“My photography is pretty much National Geographic style documentary. I presented public slideshows for 16 years, so I covered everything in each country,” he said. “It’s not just marking countries off a list.”

If Mr Skyum is unable to regain his life’s work, he plans to sell what equipment he has left.

“It’s difficult to stop something that you’ve done since you were 20 years old. I’ve committed my life to this. I have no family, no children and no wife. I am married to my job and the planet Earth.”

Though two-thirds of Mr Skyum’s photographs are backed-up in his homeland, they are saved only in “raw format”, meaning years of editing and fine tuning each photo is lost – with one-third of his photos completely gone.

“I’m not going to redo all of this again, this is the end of it because I lost so much of my work and tens of thousands of photos are gone completely, both jpegs and raws,” he explained.

Due to being about two years behind processing his photos, there are no other records of his photos taken during trips to various countries over the past two years.

“I just took over 6,000 images in Egypt last September,” he said.

Following Mr Skyum filing a complaint with the Chalong Police, Sub Lt Kraisorn Boonprasop is now investigating two main suspects: a Burmese handyman who was staying in Mr Skyum’s room while he was out of the country; and the Coco Palace Resort manager, who quit four days before Mr Skyum returned from his trip.

“Mr Skyum allowed ‘Mr Dam’ and his family to stay in the room while he was travelling. He gave him the key,” Lt Kraisorn told the Gazette.

“We didn’t find any traces of the place being ransacked and the thick dust in the room made it impossible to find fingerprints,” he added.

When Mr Skyum returned from his trip, his maid, the only staffer still working for him, told him that she had found the key to his room still in the door several days after Mr Dam had returned it to the resort manager and left.

The items missing from the room – in addition to the electronics – were only a couple small things from the minibar, Mr Skyum explained. However, the reception computer and all of the paperwork for the bookings, including calenders, were also missing.

Mr Skyum explained to the Gazette that he contacted the manger, who admitted to taking it home to remove some personal information.

The computer was returned the next day, but had been wiped clean, Mr Skyum alleged.

“I introduced her [the manger] to the [photography] business, my website and database in New York… I offered her 30 per cent commission, which is quite high. She didn’t sell anything, but at least she knows now the value of my collection,” Mr Skyum said.

The Coco Palace Resort, which has been on the market for eight years, was originally built for about 25 million baht, all of which Mr Skyum said was derived from his photography business.

Police are continuing their investigation into the missing items.

Any person who believes they have seen Mr Skyum’s stolen equipment (MacBook Pro with Danish keyboard) are urged to call Lt Kraisorn at Chalong Police Station at 076-381247 or contact Mr Skyum at 080-8831040.

Additional reporting by Saran Mitrarat.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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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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