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Phuket Gazette Exclusive: Aldhouse – A view from the inside

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gazette Exclusive: Aldhouse – A view from the inside | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Looking exhausted, Lee Aldhouse cut a lonely figure in his faded prison-issue overalls, surrounded by about 20 Thai inmates. He waited for the signal from the prison guard controlling the communication between visitors and inmates – a telephone – before picking up his receiver.

The first thing he said was, “I cannot talk about my impending court case, but we can discuss prison life.”

Aldhouse faces charges of premeditated murder under Section 288 of the Thai Criminal Code for the slaying of former US Marine Dashawn Longfellow in 2010. The penalty for that charge is death or a term of imprisonment of 15 to 20 years, but the death penalty will not be considered as he has already confessed to stabbing Mr Longfellow.

Aldhouse has been in Phuket Provincial Prison since December last year, when he became the first person in over 100 years to be extradited from England to Thailand (click here for story). He fled Thailand on August 17, 2010, three days after the murder of 23-year-old Longfellow, and was arrested upon his arrival at Heathrow Airport in London on an unrelated charge.

Before the one-on-one interview with Aldhouse this week, a prison official told the Phuket Gazette that he was starting to adjust to life behind bars and had visits from friends every two weeks.

Speaking softly and calmly through the telephone with his gaze fixed forward, Aldhouse talked about his prison life. His expression changed only when the conversation turned to prison guards. He became uncomfortable, rubbing his head, neck and face compulsively and glancing around the room before looking straight on again.

PRISON LIFE

Aldhouse entered Phuket prison in shackles and chains and admits that he felt unsafe for the first few months. The tough guy persona he had spent years cultivating during his kickboxing career as “The Pitbull” worked against him in jail. He believes that when he fell ill, he wasn’t allowed to get the medical treatment he felt he needed because of his image.

“The guards saw me as a tough Muay Thai boxer,” he said.

Trying to come to grips with what was happening around him, he would take notes about daily life and the incidents that occurred in prison. This constant note-taking was a poignant reminder of his new life and what came with it – causing him great stress. Once he stopped chronicling everything that happened to him, he began to feel more at ease and slowly adjusted to his new surroundings.

“I have sort of acclimatized to life in prison. It’s not a good thing, but I had to do it to get by with day-to-day life.”

Aldhouse, originally from Birmingham, helps to pass his time in jail by training four Thai inmates in amateur boxing.

“I was asked to do this only because of my fighting background and I have trained the boxers since day one here,” he said.

The boxers don’t have a gym as such, but they do have one punching bag and gloves. Training the boxers keeps Aldhouse busy and he spoke with a sense of pride about the tournament his boxers competed in on April 25 at Surat Thani Provincial Prison. Aldhouse doesn’t box, but he enjoys the hands-on aspect of training the inmates.

THE BELLS

Aldhouse does his best to keep to himself in a cell that houses 33 other inmates, explaining in part why he looks so exhausted.

“I can’t sleep at night because the guards ring a bell every 15 minutes, from 8pm to 6am every night.”

Phuket Prison Chief Rapin Nichanon explained to the Gazette that the bells are standard procedure at prisons across Thailand.

“The guards ring the bells hourly from 9pm to 6am to let their supervisor know that all is well. It takes about three minutes for all guards to ring in. This system is used in every prison in Thailand,” he said.

The only contact Aldhouse has with the outside world is when his girlfriend and a few friends he made before he fled the country in 2010 come to visit him.

ANXIETY

Aldhouse doesn’t send any mail to friends or relatives on the outside as he believes the guards will read it. The mere mention of the guards makes him squirm in his seat, and again he begins to rub his neck and his head.

“The guards have refused to give me my medication for anxiety for the last six weeks,” he said.

“Prisoners are allowed medicine only if it has been prescribed by a doctor,” Prison Chief Rapin explained.

“They cannot bring their own medicine into the prison and they cannot receive any medicine brought by relatives or friends without presenting to us a prescription from a doctor in Thailand,” he said.

“Mr Aldhouse does not have a doctor’s prescription and friends who visited him tried to bring him some medicine a few times. They told us it was for his illness, but we did not allow this because we are not sure if it is genuine medicine or drugs or other dangerous pills,” he added.

Regardless, Chief Rapin called a doctor from Vachira Phuket Hospital to examine Aldhouse and confirm that medication was required.

“The doctor ordered an initial course of medication, but after that ran out Mr Aldhouse said he wanted more. The doctor, however, considers further medication unnecessary,” he said.

A DIFFERENT VIEW

Seen through the glass, Aldhouse looked like a person who is starting to accept his fate and no longer sees the point in trying to cause a fuss.

He doesn’t like the way the media have portrayed him and he doesn’t understand why the press has chosen to show him ina bad light.Stories surfaced of Aldhouse smashing a flyscreen, fighting with other prisoners and making unrealistic demands.

“I don’t want to be portrayed as an animal in the media. The stories about food and special treatment are all lies.”

He was at a loss to understand why people would make something up about him and he couldn’t think of a reason when pushed on the subject. He gestured to the other Thai inmates in the room asking, “Why would I get special meals over them?”

TRIAL

Aldhouse is not due back in court again until August 10, and now that he seems to be coping with life in prison he didn’t seem keen on being moved to a prison in Bangkok after his trial.

“I want to stay here… I don’t want to go to a new prison and have to start from the beginning in a new prison environment,” he said.

Phuket Prison was built 115 years ago and meant to house 800 prisoners, but today is home to more than 2,000 inmates.

As the allotted 15 minutes of visiting time drew to a close, Aldhouse asked if the Gazette would come back again and see him in a month or two, but not at 1pm on a Thursday, as that is when he holds a training session with his boxers.

And with that, the phone line was cut off and the inmates filed through the single door back into the belly of the prison.

Additional reporting by Orawin Narabal

— Andrew Scott

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

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Bangkok

Suspected British Coronavirus patient, confirmed NOT to have the virus – UPDATE

The Thaiger

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Suspected British Coronavirus patient, confirmed NOT to have the virus – UPDATE | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Doctors have confirmed Mr Shorley doesn't have the Chinese Coronavirus - Go Fund Me

It’s now been confirmed that a British man, in critical condition in a Thai Hospital, has not contracted the Chinese Coronavirus. Ashley Shorley, who was holidaying on Koh Phi Phi at the time, became seriously ill with a “flu virus” on December 27. He was rushed by boat (reported as a sea plane in other media) to Phuket where his condition worsened. He is now reported to remain in critical condition in a Bangkok hospital.

However, doctors have now confirmed the 32 year old, from Lancashire in the north of England, does not have the Chinese virus. They have confirmed that the virus is “a severe strain of flu”.

It was initially reported that doctors feared he may have contracted the Chinese Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan and has been contracted by more than 250 people, along with 4 deaths from the new strain of virus.

Ashely’s parents, Chris and Julie, were on holiday in Spain when they received the news about their son being taken ill. They are now in Phuket with their son. While Ashley has medical insurance, his friends and family set up a crowdfunding page to help support the mounting costs during his stay in Thailand.

The mysterious SARS-like virus has so far killed 4 and infected up to 250 confirmed (as of Tuesday afternoon) cases.

Thai Visa reports that Ashley in the intensive care unit at Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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Environment

32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim

The Thaiger

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32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Ash Shorley remains in critical condition in a Phuket Hospital - Go Fund Me

UPDATE HERE.

A British tourist is reported to be fighting for his life in a Phuket hospital. He could be the first Western victim of the coronavirus strain sweeping through China, according to Doctors at the hospital, but is yet to be confirmed. This latest coronavirus, related to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) viruses, is new and was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan last month.

32 year old Ash Shorley remains in critical condition in a Phuket hospital after being infected with a virus while visiting Koh Phi Phi, in the Krabi province. He has been in hospital for nearly a month. His parents, Chris and Julie, who live in Lancashire, are now in Phuket whilst tests are being processed to determine the virus that has attacked Mr Shorley. His parents report that Ash has lost 52 kilograms since contracting the mystery disease.

“He was two days from death. If he wasn’t so fit, he wouldn’t be with us now. We are now waiting on tests. It is very serious.” – Ash Shorley’s father.

Ash was transported to Phuket by seaplane because “his lung had collapsed”, according to the Daily Mail Online. Phuket doctors claim his symptoms are consistent with the Chinese coronavirus but a confirmation on their suspicions is yet to emerge. Experts, speaking to Daily Mail Online, say Mr Shorley’s symptoms are consistent with the new Chinese coronavirus, but could also be a sign of other respiratory infections, as yet, undetermined.

The mysterious SARS-like virus has so far killed 3 and infected up to 220 confirmed (as of Tuesday) cases, although estimates by the WHO speculate that there are as many as 1,700 cases in Wuhan, central China, since December.

The virus is now confirmed to have spread to other parts of China – 5 cases in Beijing, 14 in Shenzhen and one in a province adjacent to Shanghai. Four other confirmed cases have been reported in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

The spike in reported cases comes as millions of Chinese are packing their bags to travel overseas for the Chinese New Year holiday. Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains the country has “stuck to a serious, earnest and professional attitude” to prevent and control any further outbreak of the disease.

SOURCE: Daily Mail Online

32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Instagram32 year old British patient recovering in Phuket, suspected Coronavirus victim | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Daily Mail Online

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Bangkok

The rise of the e-bicycle in Thailand, a bit of motorised assistance

The Thaiger

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The rise of the e-bicycle in Thailand, a bit of motorised assistance | The Thaiger

by Nicole Kash

Cycling tours offer a unique way to explore Thailand. Faster than walking but slower than driving, cycling tours cover plenty of ground while allowing cyclists to immerse themselves in the sights, smells, and culture of Thailand without the boundary of a car window.

Cycling tours can cover up to a heart-pumping 150 kilometre a day. Though exciting for many, some find longer distances daunting, especially newer cyclists or those out of practice. This is where the e-bike has begun filling a unique gap in Thailand’s adventure tourism industry. Thanks to e-bikes, longer distance day tours and challenging multi-day cycling tours are no longer reserved for fitness fanatics. 

Popular in the US and Europe, the e-bike has made its way to Thailand is now thriving within the Kingdom’s tourism industry. These motorised bicycles offer the option to assist cyclists with pedaling, which is especially useful for long distances and tough uphill climbs. Even with the help of the motor, cyclists still get plenty of exercise, as the pedal-assist system requires the rider to put some work in.

Unlike a scooter or motorbike, an e-bike does not run without the pedaling effort of the rider. They feature rechargeable batteries and an and off switch, allowing cyclists to challenge themselves as much as they’d like and get a little extra help when needed. 

The option of swapping our traditional bikes for e-bikes on cycling tours offer more tourists the opportunity to join in on cycling tours than ever before, growing the number of potential clients for Thai adventure tourism companies while fostering a climate of inclusivity.

Looking to join in on the fun? Here’s a look into a few of the single-day and multi-day bicycle tours with e-bike options offered by Bangkok based SpiceRoads Cycling! 

Road Cycling Bangkok to Phuket (10 days)

Starting in bustling Bangkok and ending in along Phuket’s sparkling coastline, this 10-day bicycle tour with e-bike options is the perfect mix of must-see sites and tucked away local spots all on smooth roads. Pedalling toward the scenic south, ride beyond the city lights and explore rural Thailand’s rich culture and welcoming villages while making stops at the east and west coast’s local beach spots along the way.

Rolling hills, golden sunsets, a real taste of local life, and of course serene sea views await you! This trip is fully supported with an air-conditioned van and riders can take a break and cool off while still enjoying the same views as the rest of the group. 

Phuket Highlights (½ day) 

Take a break from beach life to explore Phuket’s unique and often overlooked old town on this ½ day bicycle tour with e-bike options. We start on the town’s peripheral, exploring Koh Sirey’s community of sea gypsies and on to see and smell the fresh catch of the day as locals bid for the best deals at the fishing port.

Then we head downtown to admire Phuket Old Town’s Sino-Portuguese architecture, Jui Tui Shrine museum, and unique shops by bike. This leisurely 27 kilometre tour ends with a drive to stunning Khao Khad viewpoint for a scenic sea view and bird’s eye view over where we have ridden. 

Kanchanaburi Explorer (3 days) 

Immerse yourself in Kanchanaburi’s natural beauty and historic sites on this 3 day bicycle tour with e-bike options. Cycle along country roads and through local villages, enjoying mountain views and the thrill off jungle clad and dirt trails along the way.

Then explore off the bike, boarding a local train for a stunning train ride on Death Railway, visiting the historic and dark Hellfire Pass, and taking an optional boat trip to visit a Mon village. A diverse itinerary combining Kanchanburi’s stunning natural sites with stops at historical must-sees on a mix of tarmac and dirt trails assures you will never get bored on this 102 kilometre bicycle tour!

The rise of the e-bicycle in Thailand, a bit of motorised assistance | News by The Thaiger

To find out more, and see more tours from the Spice Roads team, click HERE.

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