Connect with us

Phuket

Swedes cycling to Phuket for post-tsunami orphanage cross halfway point

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on

Swedes cycling to Phuket for post-tsunami orphanage cross halfway point | The Thaiger

PHUKET: With a five-day sprint across Turkmenistan behind them, a group of cyclists who departed Sweden in April for the fair shores of Phuket to raise money for a local post-tsunami orphanage have now crossed the halfway point – on target to arrive well in time for the 10th tsunami anniversary.

“The desert race through Turkmenistan was incredibly hot and dry. We had 500km to cover and could only get a five-day transit visa,” one of the cyclists, Calle Wollgard, told the Phuket Gazette. “Before that, we had done Iran quite quickly – our bodies were a bit worn out, but we managed.”

With more than 8,000 kilometers under their belts, and about 8,000km more to tackle before crossing the bridge to Phuket, morale is high for Calle, Fredrik Jessen, Tomi Blumen and Christofer Johansson (story here).

“Right now, we are in the city of Buchara, Uzbekistan. A couple of days ago we reached a milestone when the meter showed 8,0000km, which means halfway!” Calle said.

“Morale is good, I think. Of course there are days when you don’t want to cycle, and of course there are days when we don’t love each other. But we are starting to see the end of this journey, even if we have a lot of kilometers left to cover.”

The positive attitude of the group, which has been quintessential to the team’s outlook from the start, continues despite Tomi and Fredrick suffering from serious stomach problems.

“To be honest, I also don’t feel 100 per cent either,” Calle said. “But just give us a day or two and we’ll all be fine.”

Once they have recovered, the team’s next big challenge is China.

“It’s the biggest country on our route. We’ll have to cover about 5,800km of desert, mountains, small villages and big cities – it’s going to be awesome.”

With regular updates rolling in, the children of the post-tsunami orphanage Barnhem Muang Mai are keeping tabs on the team.

The orphanage, which will be the benefactor of the charity ride, is run by Susanne Janson and Hans Forssell, who have set up a room to allow the children to follow the cyclists’ epic journey.

“We have a special room at Barnhem that we call ‘The Happy Tour Room’ where the children can follow them [the cyclists] on the map, paint the flag of each country they enter and learn a little bit about all the countries. And the children love to watch the small movies they are posting online,” Susanne told the Gazette this week.

Before the trip got underway, Susanne explained that she and Hans would be following the journey with a mixture of horror and joy, as Calle had become a kind of little brother to them.

“He came down here as a volunteer, and we just connected. He got very close to Thailand and the children and the Thai staff here,” Susanne said.

“He is the volunteer that we have gotten closest to over the years – and not just us. It would be the same if we were to ask a lot of the staff and the kids,” Hans said in March.

Now, both Hans and Susanne follow Calle and his team’s journey with pride.

“I guess I should say that it has been a little bit scary – but it hasn’t, as we have kept close contact via email, Skype and by following them on Instagram, Facebook and their blog. They seem to have such a great time out there on their bikes – meeting all these wonderful people on their way, and doing all this crazy stuff when they are not biking,” Susan said this week.

“I feel proud, relieved and happy… I am relieved that they have come this far without any big problems and that all of them are still feeling healthy and strong – apart for some stomach-issues now and then.

“I am filled with happiness from all of their stories about how helpful and kind the people they meet on their way have been – opening up their homes, giving them food – and so on. And I am happy that they now are 50 per cent closer to us than they were when they started.

“All of us at Barnhem are so looking forward to the day we can meet them at Sarasin Bridge.”

Hans explained that he isn’t worried about the team.

“Honestly, I have no concerns whatsoever. I trust in their abilities and the goodness of humanity. You talk to them, and it’s silly to hear how kind people are to them,” said Hans.

“Being a westerner you hear about Serbia or Iran and you hear about those places in a geopolitical context. The average person, ‘the-man-in-the-street’, in these places is just so amazingly kind,” Hans said.

When Calle was recently asked about the most extraordinary portion of the trip – since last speaking to the Gazette (story here) – it was the kindness of the Iranian people that bubbled to the surface.

“Before the trip, I read a lot about cyclists going to Iran and they all loved it – mostly because of the Iranian people I think,” Calle said. “And they were so right. The people are just amazing: they invite you to have food and shelter almost every day; they are cheering for you all the time; and if you need any kind of help, they are always there for you – we just loved it.”

In addition to the outpouring of hospitality, morale continues to be bolstered by knowing that every 10km peddled brings the team closer to raising at least 1.5 million baht. The funds will go to support Barnhem Muang Mai (here), which prides itself, not only on the loving care and importance of education for the children, but also financial transparency (financial records here).

The money comes from individuals and companies making pledges for every Swedish mile (10km) the team rides.

“If someone wants to donate, they just email us [callewollgard@gmail.com] and tell us their name and how much they want to donate for each Swedish mile… that’s one way to push us to cycle the whole way. We will feel that with every mile we are bringing money to the orphanage,” Calle said.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.



Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

Published

on

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

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading

Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

Published

on

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

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading

Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

Published

on

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Continue Reading

The Thaiger Newsletter

Keep up with all the day’s news. Subscribe here.

The latest news and information from Thailand.

* indicates required



ม็อบ “สมัชชาคนจน” เดินเท้าถึงทำเนียบ กดดันรัฐบาลไม่จริงใจ [Live] | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง18 hours ago

ม็อบ “สมัชชาคนจน” เดินเท้าถึงทำเนียบ กดดันรัฐบาลไม่จริงใจ [Live]

ชมวาทะเด็ดธนาธร ให้การศาลรัฐธรรมนูญ คดีวีลัค ทำงานการเมืองเพราะอยากเปลี่ยนแปลงสังคม | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง4 days ago

ชมวาทะเด็ดธนาธร ให้การศาลรัฐธรรมนูญ คดีวีลัค ทำงานการเมืองเพราะอยากเปลี่ยนแปลงสังคม

ตรวจหวย 16/10/62 รางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย6 days ago

ตรวจหวย 16/10/62 รางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ

ตรวจหวย 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ผลสลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล 16/10/62 | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย6 days ago

ตรวจหวย 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ผลสลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล 16/10/62

ถ่ายทอดสด “สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล” 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สด ๆ | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย6 days ago

ถ่ายทอดสด “สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล” 16 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สด ๆ

หนุ่มแท็กซี่ฉาว ท้าต่อยเจ้าของธุรกิจเต๊นท์ กลางงานสนามหลวง | The Thaiger
ข่าว7 days ago

หนุ่มแท็กซี่ฉาว ท้าต่อยเจ้าของธุรกิจเต๊นท์ กลางงานสนามหลวง

ไทยแชมป์วอลเลย์บอลอาเซียนกรังด์ปรีซ์สนาม 2 รางวัลรายบุคคล | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล2 weeks ago

ไทยแชมป์วอลเลย์บอลอาเซียนกรังด์ปรีซ์สนาม 2 รางวัลรายบุคคล

ตรวจหวย1ตุลาคม2562 ผลรางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย3 weeks ago

ตรวจหวย1ตุลาคม2562 ผลรางวัลที่ 1 เลขท้าย 2 ตัว 3 ตัว เลขหน้า 3 ตัว และรางวัลอื่น ๆ

ถ่ายทอดสดหวย 1 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล | The Thaiger
ตรวจหวย3 weeks ago

ถ่ายทอดสดหวย 1 ตุลาคม 2562 ลุ้นรางวัลที่ 1 สลากกินแบ่งรัฐบาล

สีจิ้นผิงกล่าวสุนทรพจน์ ครบรอบ 70 ปีก่อตั้งสาธารณรัฐประชาชนจีน -ลิงก์ถ่ายทอดสด | The Thaiger
ต่างประเทศ3 weeks ago

สีจิ้นผิงกล่าวสุนทรพจน์ ครบรอบ 70 ปีก่อตั้งสาธารณรัฐประชาชนจีน -ลิงก์ถ่ายทอดสด

คลิปไฮไลท์วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 5 | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

คลิปไฮไลท์วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 5

คลิปไฮไลท์ วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 1 | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

คลิปไฮไลท์ วอลเลย์บอลเวิลด์คัพ 2019 นัดที่ 1

Paramount เตรียมรีเมค FACE/OFF หนังบู๊ระดับตำนาน | The Thaiger
หนัง1 month ago

Paramount เตรียมรีเมค FACE/OFF หนังบู๊ระดับตำนาน

ประยุทธ์ โต้ รัฐบาลไหนก็มีตำหนิทั้งนั้น “ถึงเวลาก็อ้างอย่างที่ผมอ้าง” | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง1 month ago

ประยุทธ์ โต้ รัฐบาลไหนก็มีตำหนิทั้งนั้น “ถึงเวลาก็อ้างอย่างที่ผมอ้าง”

อารัมภบท รักฉุดใจนายฉุกเฉิน My ambulance ตอนแรก 6 กันยานี้ | The Thaiger
บันเทิง2 months ago

อารัมภบท รักฉุดใจนายฉุกเฉิน My ambulance ตอนแรก 6 กันยานี้

Trending