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Phuket prepped for Super Bowl

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket prepped for Super Bowl | The Thaiger
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PHUKET TOWN: Super Bowl XLIV (that’s 44), the culmination of the NFL season and the biggest annual sporting event in the USA, will kick off early tomorrow morning, Thai time.

The New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts will meet in Miami to decide the destination of the next Vince Lombardi trophy.

It will be an historic occasion for the New Orleans Saints, who will be determined to ensure that their first Super Bowl appearance is a successful one. The Colts, by contrast, will be making their second Super Bowl appearance since 2007.

The Saints’ first ever Super Bowl is particularly significant coming just five seasons after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and forced thousands of people to take shelter in the Louisiana Superdome, rendering the stadium unsuitable as a sporting venue for the entire 2005/2006 season. The New Orleans Saints were forced to play their home games in neighboring cities that year, failing to make the divisional playoffs and finishing with an overall record of 3-13.

Expats in Phuket have been known to make an early rise – or all-night plunge – to be awake for the 6am kickoff.

This year’s game is especially important for local resident Karen Ellison, who is both owner of Duke’s Big Board Bar in Kata and a native of New Orleans. Ellison will make sure her pub is up and running for football fans the morning of the game.

“Living in South East Asia redefines the concept of a traditional ‘tailgater’ and instead we serve breakfast to the foolhardy folks willing to catch an early hour kick-off. No matter, we still get to catch the game live and replace burgers & hot dogs with bacon and eggs. At Duke’s Big Board Bar in Kata, we’re just trying to make everyone feel a little bit at home…while away from home,” she said.

For Ellison and other natives of New Orleans, the Saints’ first Super Bowl appearance is about more than just football.

“Like the tsunami which devastated Phuket in 2004, New Orleans was decimated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The spirit of New Orleans, affectionately called NOLA, has been experiencing a rebirth under the Fleur-de-lis so proudly worn by the Saints,” she said.

Things turned around in the seasons following Hurricane Katrina as the Saints worked their way towards winning records and discovered superstar talent in runningback Reggie Bush and quarterback Drew Brees. Their progressive success continued this year, finishing the regular season and booking a spot in the playoffs with a record of 13-3.

The Saints faced the Arizona Cardinals at the Louisiana Superdome in the conference semi-finals and were comfortable victors, winning 45-14 to take their place in the NFC Championship for the second time in the club’s 53 year history.

It was there that the Saints took on veteran quarterback Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings for the rights to show in Super Bowl XLIV. With the clock ticking down and the scores tied at 28-28, the Vikings had one last drive from which to score what would surely have been the winning points. The script was written for the veteran Favre – who is the oldest quarterback to ever win an NFL payoff game – to lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl, but the Saints clearly hadn’t read it. They intercepted an errant Favre pass to send the game into overtime and kicked a game-winning field goal to claim a 31-28 victory.

The Colts route to the Super Bowl was more routine for the consistently successful team. They finished the regular season 14-2 and comfortably dispatched the Baltimore Ravens 20-3, and the New York Jets 30-17, to secure the AFC Championship. Colts QB Peyton Manning – who is arguably the best player in the NFL today – continues to claim his future spot in the NFL Hall of Fame with his precision passing and widely respected team leadership.

The Saints, who go into the game as slight underdogs, will be looking to dynamic running back Reggie Bush to find a way through the Colts defense. The Colts will, as always, be reliant upon Manning, who led them to their Super Bowl success in 2006. The Saints will be hoping his opposite number Drew Brees, who has enjoyed the best season of his career to date, can conjure up a match winning performance in Miami.

A TV audience of in excess of 90 million is expected in the US, with millions more likely to tune in around the world.

Kickoff is set for 6:25am Thai time and the match will be screened live on True TV and Astro Supersport.

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Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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