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Phuket Live Wire: Is Phuket cheaper?

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Live Wire: Is Phuket cheaper? | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Hardly a day passes when somebody doesn’t ask me, “Woody, should I buy a laptop (phone, desktop computer, iPad, printer, camera, TV) here in Phuket, or is it cheaper in the US (or Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Seoul, Europe)?”

Once upon a time, it was relatively easy to answer that question. Times have changed.

Three or four years ago, prices in Bangkok – particularly Panthip Plaza – ran about 15 per cent cheaper than Phuket. You could find individual fluctuations from time to time, but there was a definite increase in prices here in Phuket, for just about everything, from paper to laptops, phones to scanners.

Those price differences have largely evaporated. Bangkok computer retailers, such as JIB Computer, now have branches in Phuket, and the Phuket shops charge the same prices as in Bangkok’s Panthip Plaza. Some even use the same price sheets. Other low-margin retailers, particularly in the basement of Big C and on or near Phang Nga Road in Phuket Town, have kept up.

For consumer electronics, Power Buy isn’t the cheapest in Thailand, but it’s close. Other Bangkok chains also sell at the same price here as in Bangkok. It’s rare that you’ll find anything significantly cheaper in Bangkok – although the selection is greater at Panthip.

By comparison, Bangkok tends to be a little more expensive than Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, or even occasionally Singapore. Five years ago, I flew to Hong Kong to buy a gorgeous 30-inch monitor, and saved enough to pay for the plane fare. That just wouldn’t happen today.

Specific brand name items might run 10 per cent cheaper in Hong Kong or Singapore – but at the same time, other items run 5 to 10 per cent more (I’m looking at you, Dell). I’ve come to the conclusion that going out of the country just isn’t worth the airfare, lugging the hardware, dealing with customs, or worrying about the warranty.

The one place where you can consistently find lower prices is the US. I can hear the guffaws all the way out here. But it’s true: on some items, particularly expensive big-name items, prices are lower in the US than just about anywhere in the world.

One big exception is Apple. The iPad 2 (16 GB with 3G) costs US$629 in the US. The same rig in Phuket goes for 19,900 baht, which is about US$637 at current exchange rates. The warranty is identical so there’s no reason to buy an iPad outside of Thailand.

If things are frequently cheaper in the US, it immediately raises the question: how much cheaper? I’ve found two web sites that tell you not only how much items sell for in the US (and some in Europe). They also show you the price history, so you can see where prices have been, and possibly get an idea of where they’re headed. Everybody wondering if they pay too much here for a specific piece of electronics should hop over to both sites and see how well local prices stack up.

The first site, camelegg.com, tracks prices at Newegg – one of the pre-eminent online electronics retailers in the US that sells computers and computer equipment, of course, but also televisions, cameras, kitchen appliances, refrigerators, washers, calculators, shredders, BBQ grills, bug zappers – and popcorn machines.

The second site, Decide.com, also tracks prices and shows you historical graphs, but it has two additional twists. Firstly, the database at Decide.com is enormous and covers hundreds of competing stores. Secondly, the people behind the site have put together some fancy programming – aided by human observers – and they make an educated guess on whether it’s better to buy something now or wait and see if something better is coming down the track.

Let me show you how this works. Say you’re in the market for a new DSLR camera. You’ve looked around and settled on a Canon EOS 600D with an 18-55 mm Canon EF-S IS II lens. You can find that camera at several locations in Phuket (the cheapest I found was 29,900 baht). If you go to Decide.com, you’ll see that the camera – known as an EOS Rebel T3i in the US – can be bought for US$655 (about 20,500 baht) from a lesser-known mass retailer, and up to US$708 at B&H (a reputable mass retailer with a long track record). Prices in Europe are higher.

The Decide.com web site recommends that you go ahead and buy it now, because of an anticipated price increase of up to $60 in the next two weeks.

Flipping over to camelegg.com, you’ll see that Newegg lists it for $899 right now, but seven weeks ago it was at $849. I’d be willing to bet that the price will come down at Newegg after Christmas.

Conclusion: you can save 7,800 baht by buying the camera at B&H in the US – providing you can get it here without incurring any shipping charges or customs duties. If you want to buy it from Newegg, the price in the US is only 1,900 baht cheaper than it is here.

No, I didn’t end up buying the camera but I sure felt better about prices in Phuket after looking at comparable prices in the US.

Prices can work the other way around, by the way: living in Phuket can have advantages, in a strange way. If you follow me on Twitter (@PhuketLiveWire), you saw a warning about skyrocketing hard drive prices that I published in InfoWorld several days before the big spike arrived. In the US, and around the world, the price of large hard drives just about tripled in the course of a couple of weeks, in late October.

If you were looking for a hard drive about that time, and you saw my tweet, you could’ve run out to one of the many retailers in Phuket and picked up a hard drive at something close to the original price. The folks in Phuket didn’t follow the sudden worldwide rise in prices for 24 to 48 hours after they’d hit worldwide.

Live Wire is Phuket Gazette columnist Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things internet in Phuket.

Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes and the Phuket Gazette sponsor free Wednesday afternoon computer help clinics around the island. See the Gazette Guide for times and locations.

Follow Woody on Twitter: @PhuketLiveWire, or “like” his page at facebook.com/SandwichShoppe.

— Woody Leonhard



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Phuket

Phuket seastead will be removed today

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket seastead will be removed today | The Thaiger

The Third Naval Area Command will remove the seastead stationed off Phuket south-east coast today, belonging to an American bitcoin investor and seasteading innovators Ocean Builders.

Thai authorities plan to seize the structure as evidence in a criminal case. They fear the structure will continue to be a navigation hazard if left there.

US national Chad Elwartowski and his Thai girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet (aka Nadia Summergirl), are facing charges of threatening the Kingdom’s sovereignty. Last Sunday officials from the Royal Thai Navy and Phuket Maritime boarded the structure saying it violated Article 119 of the Criminal Code and also posed a navigational hazard.

The couple launched the ‘Ocean Builders’ seastead on February 2 off the coast of Phuket. The structure is located to the southeast of Koh Racha Yai, approximately 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometres) from the mainland.

Elwartowski has claimed that his seastead is outside Thailand’s territorial waters, but Thai authorities insist that it violates Article 119 and challenges Thailand’s territorial rights.

“The Royal Thai Navy has full authority and duty to protect national interest and marine sovereignty in the area,” according to a Navy spokesperson.

Regarding the couple’s claim that they feared for their lives, Vice Admiral Sitthiporn Maskasem, commander of the Third Naval Area, said that authorities had followed the legal procedures.

“We are neither hunting them down nor threatening them,” said the commander.

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North East

Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy

The Thaiger

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Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy | The Thaiger

Thailand suffers calamities at both ends of the annual weather spectrum – both drought and flood. But as the demands on agriculture grow, with a growing population and the rise of tourists and development, the effects of these two extremes are becoming more apparent.

Which leads us to this year’s outlook of lower rains which is exposing the poor management of the Kingdom’s water resources. Greater development and growing population bases hasn’t been met with more or larger water catchments.

So Thai farmers are expected to face a tough 2019 as forecasters say the drought will be more acute than usual, lowering the water levels in reservoirs in the central and northeastern provinces especially.

Int eh south, Phuket, Thailand’s largest island and surrounded by water, has an acute water shortage as of Songkran and, without adequate monsoonal rain between now and November, will be facing a water crisis if it has to rely on its own island resources.

The Director General of Department of Agricultural Extension Samran Saraban says the drought this year is exacerbated by El-Nino weather cycle which causes temperature to rise 1-2 degrees higher than normal and cause the water levels in major reservoirs to drop to worrisome level. Higher temperatures mean more evaporation and more usage of reserves.

The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has called for farmers not to grow off-season rice as drought is predicted to spread into northeastern and eastern regions. That there will likely be a new administration coping with political instability will not help leaders focus on the country’s looming water shortage.

The long dry season will lower certain farm outputs, pushing up their prices. However, an overall farm income is set to decline because the drought will leave other negative affects to farmers who are also the consumers as well. This will affect the purchasing power of farm households, which account for one-third of Thais.

Etc, etc, etc.

Economists estimated the damage from the drought on the economy this year could be high. Kasikorn Research Center estimate the drought could cost at least 15.3 billion baht. Whilst Anusorn Tamajai, Dean of Economics Faculty, Rangsit University, estimates the drought to cost even more – 20-30 billion baht -because it would affect the outputs of off-season rice, sugarcane and tapioca.

“It will dampen the purchasing power of farmers in the second quarter.”

Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence chief Yanyong Thaicharoen said that the lackluster farm income can slash the growth rate of domestic consumption this year to 3.5% versus 4.6% growth last year, in addition to other factors, namely, high household debt and slower demand for durable goods.

Spending power from farmers, according to SCB, is crucial to sustain the growth of the economy. However, the grassroots economy is bracing for negative outlook this year.

There will be intense pressure on this season’s management of Thailand’s valuable water resources, through the remaining hot season and as the catchments gather water during the monsoon.

Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger | Wikipedia

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People

Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal

The Thaiger

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Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Patong Police / Theeraphong Penmit / Newshawk Phuket

A Phuket boy has been rewarded after setting an excellent example for the rest of the Patong community.

8 year old Kosin Ta-ngam, who is studying at Sai Nam Yen School in Patong in Pratom Suksa Three, has been collecting garbage in the filthy Pak Bang Canal and along Patong Beach since the beginning of this year.

He lives with his grandmother and other relatives. His grandmother has been looking after Kosin since he was 10 months old.

A certificate, scholarship and life vest have been awarded to Kosin by the Patong Police Chief Col Anothai Jindamanee for displaying excellent citizen for the community as a youth volunteer and being an active part of keeping the city clean.

The Pak Bang Canal, running through the back of Patong into Patong Bay, has been a dark, dirty mess for decades. Many promises have been made to clean it up but it remains a disgraceful waterway flowing through Phuket’s main tourist town.

The tiny eight year old seems to be able to achieve a lot more than the local municipality with all their money and machinery.

Kosin, you are the Thaiger hero for today and we salute you!

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

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