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Phuket Sports: Howlers, hunger, humbling and howls – F1

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Sports: Howlers, hunger, humbling and howls – F1 | The Thaiger

PHUKET: What an unexpectedly delicious race Sepang provided.The race was characterized mainly by sins; sins of omission and sins of commission.

Errors took Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus, and Force India out of contention, leaving only Red Bull and Mercedes to take the first four places. But that summary contains none of the drama that left three miserable men on the podium.

Lotus made a baffling decision to use only one lap to qualify Kimi Räikkönen, who took chances and ended in a pitiable starting position. He lost part of a wing on the first lap, the car misbehaved, and Kimi visited the rough several times. He finished a brave seventh. Fernando Alonso also lost part of his wing, his team failed to pit him for a replacement, and he retired early.

McLaren had significantly improved since Melbourne, and Jenson Button looked to be in for a possible podium finish when a horrible pit stop lost him the race. Force India looked very good until they retired hurt, seemingly with wheel nut problems.

That left Red Bull as one and two, and the best of the rest was Mercedes at three and four. Then the plot took a twist. Hamilton in the lead Mercedes had low fuel and was ordered to take his foot off the pedal. The Red Bulls had tyre management issues, and Mark Webber in the lead was also instructed to slow down. That left two teams with German drivers in second position who wanted to overtake their teammates. Both team managers needed to assure maximum points; the drivers coveted glory.

For Red Bull, Vettel ignored explicit and repeated team orders, and charged past Webber in a hazardous manoeuvre to steal victory. For Mercedes, Nico Rosberg who had managed his race well, and had a chance of pressuring the Red Bulls, pleaded to be allowed to overtake Lewis Hamilton.

Ross Brawn told a frustrated Nico not to overtake his eminent new team leader. Rosberg reluctantly followed orders.

That left Vettel looking like a truculent child caught in the cookie jar, a furious Webber, and a shamefaced Hamilton on the podium for what should have been a moment of joy for each.

Alonso is also angry with Vettel whom he blames for causing the accident that destroyed his wing, and ultimately caused him to beach in the gravel and lose a “certain win”. Vettel is in danger of gaining a reputation reminiscent of Schumacher’s unprincipled commitment to winning.

Webber is not the sort of chap to forget pain easily. He said, “There were a lot of things going through my head in those closing laps. Not just from today, but from the past as well.”

Perhaps he was thinking about the 2010 Turkish GP where he was again leading, and Vettel was again second. Webber had again gone into fuel-saving mode when Vettel opted to attack him. On that occasion Vettel’s action caused a collision that cost Webber the lead, and Vettel went out of the race. Or perhaps he was recalling the 2010 British GP when his new improved front wing was passed to Vettel. He won nevertheless and famously commented “Not bad for a number two driver”.

Worse, he might have been thinking about Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko’s recent interview comment that while Webber could win races, he struggled to handle the pressures of a championship challenge.

Marko said at Sepang, “Seb made his own decisions and will have protection as usual.”

Many observers see a spoilt golden-haired child indulged beyond his competence, versus Webber the mercenary, who turned down an offer from Ferrari to stay with Red Bull. Webber is swallowing pride for lucre; but he has a big ego too.

Webber can brood until Shanghai on April 14. It has been mooted that Vettel should “give” Webber a win in compensation. But Webber does not want Vettel to give him a win; he wants to win. Nico Rosberg has the same time to consider his new spot, outshone by Hamilton’s bling.

So Shanghai will be as fascinating for its interpersonal relationships as for the reliability that McLaren and Force India can bring after the break, and a return to sanity for Ferrari and Lotus. Red Bull did not look exceptional at Sepang – even Mercedes challenged them, so Shanghai is boiling up to be a great event.

— The Digby

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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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