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Phuket family to climb Mt Kinabalu

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket family to climb Mt Kinabalu | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Two young sisters, nine-year-old Kasia Sambrook and her sister Alicia, 6, are in training to scale one of the largest mountains in the region next month in order to raise money for stray dogs.

The two girls have their eyes on the 4,095-meter peak of Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, the fourth highest peak in the Malay Archipelago.

All of their efforts will be in the name of their favorite charity, the Soi Dog Foundation (SDF).

The girls lived in Bristol, England before moving to Phuket five years ago with their father, former UK soldier Frank Sambrook, and their mother Ania from Poland, currently a teacher at British International School.

They family decided to do the climb a while ago, since Borneo has always been a fascinating destination for Ania, who once worked in the mountains of southern Poland.

Kasia and Alicia have a history of helping out at SDF, so they decided to raise funds for the organization through their climb, which will come just one month before a planned relocation to Hong Kong in August.

Their involvement in SDF has included weekly trips to help walk adult dogs and cuddle pups.

They also adopted a dog from the foundation in October last year.

Preparations for the climb have been manifold, ranging from acquiring the correct gear and contacting a trustworthy guide to building up the girls’ stamina for the 2,200-meter ascent.

Sunday treks up the Nakkerd Hills, from Shanti Lodge all the way to the Big Buddha image, have been helpful in improving their muscular strength and endurance. They have also been wearing their hiking boots and testing out head torches and wet weather gear, sporting their SDF garments at every possible occasion.

Although the walk will take place inside Kinabalu National Park, the climb will certainly be no walk in the park for the two primary schoolers. The climb will likely take them two days, with an 8- to 10-hour climb on the first day to reach overnight accommodations 3,272 meters up the mountainside.

This part of the climb will likely be hot, since July is Borneo’s dry season and they will not have reached a high enough altitude to experience a considerable drop in temperature.

They will take regular breaks, but with father Frank reminding them they must make good time to reach the campsite before nightfall.

On day two the climb will start at 3am, allowing for them to top the summit for sunrise and leaving enough time for the entire descent. The pre-dawn leg promises to be the toughest part of the trek, with cold, windy and wet conditions.

Wet weather gear and head torches will be necessary, since both hands are required to hold onto a rope that will guide them through the darkness and up the steep path to the peak.

Kasia is mindful that “that is the scariest bit”, but is reminded that she will be with her mother and father, as well as about a hundred other tourist climbers and experienced porters.

The girls will have to brave temperatures of approximately four degrees Celsius whilst taking in the breathtaking views at the summit, before starting their descent.

For many, this is the hardest part of the climb due to exhaustion and muscular strain.

The girls are weary, but optimistic “we’ll be very tired, but when we get down, there will be hot springs.”

The family are maintaining a realistic and cautious attitude to their climb. Frank and Ania, who will be carrying the backpacks containing first aid kits, have carefully researched the possible dangers they may encounter.

“There are many variables. First of all, the girls ability to keep going, the weather, and altitude sickness which can affect anybody, regardless of fitness or age,” Mr Sambrook explained.

The Sambrook’s view their trip to Borneo as a family adventure and opportunity to raise money for a cause close to their heart. The parents will keep a watchful eye for any headaches, dizziness or stomach problems – all symptomatic of altitude sickness – and will stop the climb if the weather conditions make it too dangerous to continue.

“We may not get as high as we want to, but we will go for the highest we can,” said the former serviceman.

To help support the girls on their journey, visit the Soi Dog Foundation website (soidog.org) or email: [email protected]

— Alexandra Andersson

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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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