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The digital blues of Phuket computing – Live Wire

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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The digital blues of Phuket computing – Live Wire | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Over the years I’ve talked a lot about how computing in Phuket is different – what you can expect, what will never come to pass, how to work around a whole lot of problems. This week I want to share with you a couple of stories from some friends of mine, who got stung simply because they were trying to do something normal, but they were trying to do it in Phuket – which is anything but normal.

One friend wrote this tale of woe about Apple and its iTunes store:

“It’s my son’s birthday today and his aunt in Hong Kong sent him an iTunes gift card for HK$500.

However, he cannot redeem it as his iTunes account is based in Thailand. He cannot open a Hong Kong iTunes account as he has no address there.”

Another friend had a more, uh, complex interaction, with regards to his Kindle Fire. Here’s the mail he sent to Amazon customer service:

“My friend bought a Kindle in the UK and wanted to give it to me as a family gift so that my two-year-old daughter could also use it as an educational device. However, the device is useless in Thailand.

We cannot even access free apps in the Kindle Store due to ‘geographical constraints’.

This was learned only after going through the whole process of unregistering my friend as the registered user of the device and registering myself using my name as the new registered user – which ended up creating yet another Amazon email even though I already had one.

This created much more confusion as Amazon was not sure which version of me in Thailand was accessing the account – the me with the free Kindle e-reading app installed on my work computer, or the me accessing the Kindle Store through his brand-new Kindle Fire HD. You know, the one with its beautifully tailored operating system – said to be Android, but it’s so specifically tweaked for Amazon’s financial needs that Google Play and access to any so-called free apps are blocked. Well, at least in Thailand they are.

Registering a new user also removed access to any apps or data that was previously paid for and installed by my friend as part of the intended gift. So all that money was thrown away thanks to the lack of warning from the Kindle and Amazon.

Amazon was kind enough not to allow any downloads, free or not – despite forcing me to register for a 1-Click account and then blocking all downloads with an error message instructing me to go to the Country Settings in the Manage My Kindle section in the Amazon account pages.

Not confusing enough? Even when I changed my current address in Thailand to an alternate address in the UK, I still get the same error message.

Considering the current blocked status of attempting to use a Kindle Fire HD in Thailand, I am guessing Amazon is not aiming at the Thai market or the tens of thousands of expats living in the country – or anyone thinking of bringing their brand-new Kindle Fire while they are on holiday or on a business trip to Thailand.

This is a very interesting concept for a product launch, especially now that I see kindle.co.th is “under construction”.

Also, it seems to be a very odd strategy considering that Thai IT dealers are advertising on their websites that the Kindle Fire HD is available for just under 10,000 baht.”

Both Apple and Amazon – two of the biggest names in online retailing – are completely and utterly inept when it comes to dealing with Thailand. There are a myriad of reasons why: distribution agreements, copyright overlaps and simple lethargy are ones that immediately come to mind. The fact is that Apple and Amazon, in particular, are still fighting battles on potentially enormously lucrative countries, such as Japan and China, and we in Thailand are way, way, way back on the sucking end of the stick.

I had the same problem when I first started using iTunes. I was naïve enough to sign up for an iTunes account using a Thai bank debit card. I shortly discovered that I couldn’t download about 90 per cent of the stuff I wanted to download – music and kids games, mostly – because those aren’t offered in Thailand.

Here’s the hard part to swallow. Apple doesn’t care where you’re located physically. If you have a US-registered iTunes account and you travel to Thailand, for example, you can download anything from the US store while you’re in Thailand, get updates and patches, and generally carry on as if you were sitting in a developed country. Imagine that.

But if you have a Thailand-registered iTunes account, you can’t download all sorts of stuff, no matter where you’re located. Even if you’re logged on to iTunes while sitting next to Tom “We’ll keep the light on for ya” Bodett in a Miami Motel 6, you’re forced to work with the Thailand iTunes store. You’re a second-class netizen. Your account’s nationality controls what you can and cannot see in the store – much less what you can and cannot download.

Apple has all sorts of reasons for making those restrictions, but in this day and age, the excuses seem mighty stale. A song, for example, may belong to a specific record label, and that label may have an exclusive distribution license with a Thai company. A game may have a distributor in Thailand. There are royalties to consider, cuts to be cleaved. International licensing is a nasty game, and that’s why iTunes has very strict limitations, dependent on the “nationality” of the account holder. Where, in this case, “nationality” is defined as “the country of the bank branch that issued the credit or debit card you used to set up the account.”

Amazon’s no better. When I first got my Kindle Fire (which I love, by the way), I had all sorts of problems trying to figure out why it wouldn’t work right with my wife’s Thailand-based Amazon account. Then I remembered the iTunes problems, kicked myself, switched the registered owner over to my name (and my US debit card based account), and I only lost the amount of money I had spent with the Kindle logged on to my wife’s account.

Is there a solution? Sure. Cheat. Get a credit or debit card in the US. Failing that, get one in Europe (although Europeans have long moaned about precisely this problem, there’s enough money involved that we’re finally seeing some improvement in European cross-licensing). And get a mailing address to go along with the card. No doubt you’ve encountered that problem before, and know how to solve it.

Right now, Amazon only sells Kindles in the UK, France, Monaco, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, San Marino, Vatican, Switzerland, and Spain – so if you want a Kindle that’s more than a brick, you need to set up an Amazon account with a credit/debit card and address from one of those countries. I’ve also heard that there are problems crossing country lines – signing up a US-bought Kindle with the Amazon UK account, for example – but I think most of those problems have been resolved.

Apple sells iPads and iPhones everywhere except North Korea, I think, so you’ll be able to set up an iTunes account that will work in any country on Earth – but you won’t have access to the breadth of offerings available in, say, the US. For example, the iTunes Match service, which lets you “upload” your music to Apple, and have it available on all of your iPhones, iPads and Macs, was originally only available in the US. A month later, it expanded to 17 countries. It’s now available in almost a hundred countries, including Thailand – but if you had a Thai-based iTunes account, you couldn’t get in during the first, second or third waves of the roll-out.

Our regular weekly computer clinic roundtables continue every Sunday morning, 10am at the — Woody Leonhard

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Phuket

Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works

The Thaiger

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Rawai beachfront water shut-off tomorrow for mains works | The Thaiger

The Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority says Rawai’s mains water supply will be shut off tomorrow (Tuesday, October 15) as new water pipes are fitted in front of The Title Beach Front condo resort complex on the town’s beachfront.

The mains water supply will be shut off from 9am until 4:30pm along the beachfront strip.

The PWA says the areas affected will be along Wiset Road along the Rawai beachfront road, as well as Soi Yanui and Soi Ruafaed.

Residents and businesses are being urged to collect water for use during the day today, before tomorrow morning’s shut-off.

As usual, the PWA say…“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Contact the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority on 076 319173 or 082 7901634 for more details.

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Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket

Donna Toon

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Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | The Thaiger

One of the best things about living in Asia, and in particular Thailand, is the abundance of fabulous places to have spa treatments. From the true local experience on the beach, to the ultra chic five star luxury treatments here is, in no particular order, our Top Ten Phuket Spa Experiences.

1. Let’s Relax (Boat Lagoon)

Let’s Relax’s latest addition to their Thailand spa portfolio is located in the residential area of Boat Lagoon in Koh Kaew and by accounts a winner in our books! It is a beautiful space with the natural light also bringing a sense of calm as you walk down the long entrance. With multiple treatment rooms as well as a well appointed foot massage space that can accommodate a large gaggle of girls it is has become popular very quickly with the local ladies.

Being brand new it also is a treat to sit in lush white comfy chairs while having your foot massage and a chat to your girlfriend or boyfriend. Priced on the lower end of the market, but higher than the local spas on the side of the street and well worth the extra baht, Let’s Relax is fabulous new addition to the flooded spa market.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

2. Oasis Spa (Kamala)

Oasis Spa Group has a few little gems around the island including one in Laguna and also another great one on the beach road in Kamala, however this hidden sanctuary located on the back roads in Kamala is our pick of the bunch. From the main street you would never know there is a tranquil ten treatment room spa and delightful pool setting behind the single wooden door. With an impressive and consistent list of treatments, positioned above the street-side prices but below the five star offerings, Oasis Spa is wonderful place to pamper away your day.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

3. Kata Rocks Infinite Luxury Spa

Winning the World’s Luxury Spa Awards for 2015, 2016 and 2017 we couldn’t put together a top ten spa list without including the very modern and chic Infinite Luxury Spa at Kata Rocks.

The spa blends the beyond organic philosophy of ILA spa products with its own “Me Time” philosophy, the latest spa massage technology in its eight luxury treatment rooms and suites, each designed around specific treatments. This includes two rooms for couples complete with luxurious his and her bathtubs, a chromotherapy room for coloured light therapy, a waterbed room equipped with Italian-made Iso-Benessere, a water massage bed for aiding spinal integration, a sleeping pod room with Metronap rest pod, traditional Thai spa massage treatment room, consultation and treatment room, pedicure and manicure treatment room and a contemporary tropical relaxation patio for after treatment chill down.

Positioned in the very high end of the spa market, Infinite Luxury Spa is an impressive and fabulous space to spend your day, worth every baht!

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

4. 4th Floor Central Festival Phuket

‘It’s not a very accurate location’ I hear you say, but I love this spa, and whenever I am at Central I always try and allow at least 60 minutes extra to escape the crowds and enjoy a foot massage while reading my book. Located on the top floor of Central on the left hand side as you head towards Central Department Store (sort of above McDonalds), it’s hard to miss it but the staff are always outside greeting you and encouraging you to come in and take a load off. Priced perfectly at 300 baht for a 60 minute foot massage (plus tip of course), the experience is consistent and friendly. Full body treatments are also available behind the traditional curtain.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

5. Amatara Wellness Resort

Located at the very South of Phuket at Cape Panwa, Amatara Wellness Resort as the names suggests has an incredible spa perched high on the cliffs overlooking the Andaman Sea. One of the largest spas in Asia with over 2000 square metres of dedicated spa bliss, paralleled by the extensive menu and holistic and wellness packages, it really is an experience not to be missed.

Amatara has also just opened a new spa wellness experience, the exquisitely designed Thai Hammam brings together traditional Turkish and Moroccan bathing practices with the wisdom and gentleness of Thai spa therapies. Soak your worries away.

Make a whole day of it, indulge in their fabulous Sunday Brunch and then move through to the spa! Perfection!

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

6. Banyan Tree Spa

A market leader for many years not only in Phuket but around the world, Banyan Tree is has provided us with professional and impressive spas for decades. Banyan Tree Phuket Spa with it’s impressive 24 treatment rooms hidden in lush surroundings within the gardens of the resort has well trained and dedicated therapist giving you the ultimate in spa experiences. The attention to detail which is synonymous with the spa philosophy of the group together with the consistency and surroundings makes it one of the best spa experiences certainly in Thailand. I can highly recommend the three hour Royal Banyan package, which included a cucumber and coriander scrub, Banyan Tree herbal pouch massage, jade chilled facial and flower bath. My girlfriends and I indulged just last week, and it was such a treat.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

7. Beach Shack next to Dream Beach Club on Layan Beach

We are creatures of habit in our house, we have been in Phuket for ten years now and when we like something we tend to go back regularly. Sunday’s are for chilling and we tend to either head to brunch or down to the local beach at Layan, away from the larger more commercial eateries and clubs we like eating and massaging with the locals.

Purely bang for your buck, the full body oil massages on the beach for 300 – 400 baht are an absolute must. I would love to say head to “Phung’s Massage Shack” next to Dream Beach Club but to be honest it doesn’t have a name but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get a mention and make our list. Head to the top end of Layan and facing the beach next to Dream go left, it’s worth the trip!

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

8. JW Marriott Mai Khao Spa

Mandara Spa at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa is an oasis within an oasis, the resort itself sits on 27 acres of lush gardens and beach side bliss just North of the airport in Mai Khao. Within it’s tropical gardens is the king pin for many years on the island Mandara Spa, its an icon in the local spa industry.

Tranquil, exotic and extremely relaxing, the Mandara Spa at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa features a full service beauty salon, separate steam rooms for male and female guests, five double luxurious spa suites and eleven double deluxe rooms. The spa suites are well fitted out, with some enjoying outdoor bathrooms, but the most impressive aspect of the spa itself is the staff. They are incredibly well trained, and efficient in their craft, professional yet approachable and deliver every time.

The JW Marriott Wellness Retreat (bi yearly) is a highlight every year in my calendar, hosted and facilitated by Linda and her team, as well as the best wellness experts on the island, including Hayden Rhodes, Kim White and Andrew Stanndard. The four day program has informative workshops, wellness consultations, spa treatments, healthy meals, hands on activities, yoga, cooking classes and so much more.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

9. Atmanjai Wellness Retreat

Located on the South of the island just past Chalong circle Atmanjai Wellness Retreat at Friendship Beach offers a friendly and relaxed haven where guests can participate in detox, yoga or wellness programs that help restore your vitality, happiness and health. The cute bungalows located around the pool and on the beach side are a perfect excuse to indulge just a little further and stay on location while doing your retreats.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

10. Coqoon Spa at The Slate

Unlike anything else in Phuket, Coqoon Spa at The Slate is tranquil and idyllic space nestled in the lush green trees of the resort. It has a “cocoon” tree house made from bamboo and other natural products located high off the ground in true robinson crusoe style. Being in the trees is a unique experience matched perfectly with the highly trained and efficient practitioners. Subtle touches throughout the spa together with the extensive well thought out menu make Coqoon a special occasion treat.

Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket | News by The Thaiger

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Phuket

Phuket Town – In CNN Travel’s “Asia’s most picturesque towns”

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Phuket Town – In CNN Travel’s “Asia’s most picturesque towns” | The Thaiger

“Though most famous for its beaches, the Thai island of Phuket offers ample opportunities for cultural immersion as well.”

Phuket’s Old Town was listed as one of Asia’s 13 most picturesque towns by CNN Travel.

The article mentioned, that whilst the island is renowned for its world-class beaches and leisure, offshore and adventure tourism activities, Phuket Town delivers on romance, history and cultural beauty in the island’s main commercial centre.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn says the article correctly highlighted Phuket’s cultural diversity and history; things that are often eclipsed by its beaches and Patong nightlife.

“Phuket Town retain its charm and unique identity that comes from the influence of the Baba-Peranakan culture, which started when Chinese families migrated to Phuket. We are seeing more fully independent tourists with discretionary spending power who want the unique experiences that Phuket Town is rich in.”

The pocket-sized town welcomes a large number of foreign tourists each year, a significant number of who come from China and are interested in exploring the area and its Chinese influences.

“The historic old quarter of Phuket Town, located in the centre of the island, is lined with Sino-Colonial style shop houses, built during the island’s tin-mining boom of the 18th and 19thcenturies.

“There are plenty of hip shops, cafés, restaurants and bars, including the batik shops along Thalang Road run by ethnic Malays and Indians. The area is also filled with Chinese temples, crumbling mansions, cultural museums and a nunnery.”

CNN also recommended that one of the best ways to soak up Phuket Town’s rich culture and bohemian atmosphere was to find a local company that specialises in walking tours of the Old Town.

In addition, CNN noted that Phuket Town is where travellers can indulge in some of the island’s best restaurants, ideal for those visitors who have had their fill of the same old tourist fare served in beach areas. Top picks according to CNN include Southern Thai specialist Raya, Tantitium and One Chun.

SOURCE: TAT News

Phuket Town - In CNN Travel's

Phuket Town - In CNN Travel's

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