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Slow economy boosts Festival crowds

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Slow economy boosts Festival crowds | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Slow times in the Thai economy and higher unemployment have had an effect on the Vegetarian Festival, with the number of people going to Chinese shrines for free vegetarian meals sharply up on last year’s figures. Partly, shrine spokespeople said, this was because they could save money. But it was also because believers felt that by taking part in the festival and taking food from the shrines for their families, they could improve their fortunes and their prospects. Wanchai Chantham, coordinator of the leading Jui Tui shrine on Ranong Rd said, “As of today, more than 15,000 people have registered to take meals at the shrine [compared with about 13,000 last year]. The majority are from Phuket, while the rest are mostly Thais from other provinces, and tourists from Singapore and Malaysia.” Those who register with the shrines make donations in cash or in kind, but this year many more simply came for the meals without registering or making a donation. “We have had people donating anything from 10 baht up to many thousands of baht, and taking meals with us for the entire nine days of the festival. We don’t mind if people give very little; we realize the economy is not good and, in any case, their intent is to help the shrine,” K. Wanchai added. He said he believed that many more people joined the festival on the first day (October 17) than in previous years because they could get free meals at the shrine and because this year the food on offer was different every day. Normally people join in either for the entire nine days or only for the last three days. “Our menu was more developed this year. This was also the first year that hotels were involved in providing free vegetarian food for people,” he noted. “We’ve cooked between 2½ and 3 tonnes of rice a day, both for people to eat at the shrine and to take home with them,” he added. “We cook 100 kilos of ‘kanom chin’ in the morning and it’s all gone in an hour.” Jare Kaewliporn, secretary of the small Sui Boon Tong Shrine in Patipat Rd, agreed that demand for food had increased dramatically. “We could tell from the increased number of food pails that the number of people coming for the food was up by about 30% on last year. “Part of the reason, we believe, is economic; everybody has to economize at the moment.” A spokesperson for the Bang Neow Shrine in Phuket Rd, told a similar tale. “A lot of people came for food this year; about 6,000 people registered but many more came without signing. They can save a lot of money because they can take as much food as they like, enough for the whole family.” Tomorrow (October 25) is the last day of the Festival, climaxing in an assembly of all the shrines at Saphan Hin at midnight.



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Phuket

Phuket Town Beauty spa shooter kills himself in Saphan Hin

The Thaiger

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Phuket Town Beauty spa shooter kills himself in Saphan Hin | The Thaiger

UPDATE: The suspect in this morning’s shootings, 53 year old Chana Rodket from Songkhla, has shot and killed himself in Saphan His this afternoon. He was a housekeeper a the beauty spa where the shooting took place.

Earlier, a South Korean man and Thai woman were injured in a shooting at a beauty spa near Naka Market in Phuket Town.

The two sustained serious injuries from bullet wounds. Wichit Police reports that they was notified of the incident at ‘The Beauty Spa’ at 10.30am.

Police and emergency responders arrived at the scene to find two injuried from gun shots. Blood-stained towels were found around the scene of the shooting.

The two people shot were 74 year old South Korean man, Kwang Hee Kim (father of Ms Eun Mi Kim, the owner of the Beauty Spa) and a 56 year old Thai woman named as Somsri Chuatonghua, a staff member at the spa.

Both taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital.

Phuket Town Beauty spa shooter kills himself in Saphan Hin | News by The Thaiger

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Two shot in Phuket Town beauty spa this morning

The Thaiger

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Two shot in Phuket Town beauty spa this morning | The Thaiger

A South Korean man and Thai woman have been injured in spa shooting in Phuket Town.

The two sustained serious injuries from bullet wounds after having been shot at the spa in Wichit today.

Wichit Police reports that they was notified of an incident at ‘The Beauty Spa’ in Wichit at 10.30am this morning.

Police and emergency responders arrived at the scene to find two injuried from gun shots – a 74 year old South Korean man, Kwang Hee Kim, and father of Ms Eun Mi Kim, the owner of the Beauty Spa.

The other person injured was a 56 year old Thai woman named as Somsri Chuatonghua who is staff at the spa.

They were both taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital. The suspect, Somphon, a house-keeper at the spa, is currently being sought by police.

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Bangkok

TAT expects 2.3 million tourists for this year’s Songkran

The Thaiger

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TAT expects 2.3 million tourists for this year’s Songkran | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is expecting more than 2.3 million local and foreign tourists will join the various Songkran celebrations this year. They say that should generate 20 billion baht+ in revenue for tourism and tourism-related services.

TAT’s Governor Yuthasak Supasorn says 300,000 international arrivals are expected to celebrate the five day festival starting April 12, along with two million locals who will travel to celebrate Songkran this year. Songkran falling on a weekend this year will also bolster local tourism numbers.

The number of Songkran-specific visitors is up this year, partly because of the growing popularity of the festival internationally and the government extending the holiday to five days this year, now starting on April 12 (although ‘Songkran, the Thai New Year, is actually on April 13).

Songkran festival extended HERE.

He admits that the bad publicity about the poor air quality in the northern regions is a problem, especially around Chiang Mai which has become a big international visitor favorite over recent yers.

Chiang Mai is one of nine provinces in the North struggling with smoke haze, mostly because of open-air burning of farm waste and rubbish, and localised bush fires. The heavy smog has caused temporary suspension of flights between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son although flights into Chiang Mai have been unaffected so far.

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