– A daily digest of news about Thailand from around the world, compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community.
PHUKET: Away from his home in Chiangrai for more than three months, British expat Alan Bate completed his trip around the world in honour of His Majesty the King of Thailand yesterday and set a new record in the process.
A report in The Nation today says the 45-year-old Bate biked more than 20,000 kilometres through 18 countries before bringing his journey to an end after 113 days and 15:17:04 hours.
The end came in front of a large cheering crowd at the gates of the Grand Palace, whence he had started the trip on March 31.
With sweat pouring down his face, the former British cycling champion eclipsed the previous record of 194 days. He draped himself in a Thai flag and proudly declared himself a Thai.
“It doesn’t matter whether I have a Thai passport. I love this country and the King. I think I’m Thai now,” said a delighted Bate.
Bate said the record, which is not officially registered yet, had little relevance to what he intended to do for His Majesty.
“I felt great about setting a new record, of course. But most importantly, I was looking for a chance to go around the world for Thailand and particularly for Phor Luang [the King]. That’s more important for me than any record,” he said.
When asked if he had a personal message for His Majesty, Bate bowed his head in humility.
“I think the King is far too important for an ordinary person like myself to have a message for him. I just love the King, and thank him for being the King of Thailand,” he said.
Bate said he had been through lots of experiences, some frightening, during his trip.
“I have lived in Asia for six years, and found travelling in some Western countries quite dangerous, which made me very nervous and afraid. Riding in the US was a huge concern.
“I was hit with a stick in Los Angeles and our lives were threatened in Australia while I was sleeping with my wife in a tent,” he said.
On Sunday, Bate will lead some cyclists from Benjamabopit temple to Siriraj hospital where they will all sign good wishes for His Majesty.
Asia One News
After forwarding a key military reshuffle list to His Majesty The King for approval, the Thai government has had to defend itself over the past two days, denying criticism from some media that the government is attempting to reward generals for their role in crushing opposition protests.
As expected, the army’s number two, General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, is set to replace retiring Commander-in-Chief General Anupong Paojinda.
Gen Prayut, 56, is seen as having played an active role in quelling the two-month-long anti-government protests in Bangkok that ended in May this year.
Although he has long been seen as the top contender to replace Anupong, some local media portray his promotion as a reward for his tough stance during the mass rally by the “red shirt” movement.
Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon, however, said Prayut’s promotion was unrelated to the army’s handling of the demonstrations.
“We have to consider what he has done in the past, and not only what happened in April-May,” Prawit told AFP.
“We have to choose a person who can oversee the army, sovereignty and security, and move Thailand forward,” he said.
Solar Air, a new airline, will begin services August 15, starting with a flight from Bangkok to Roi Et in Northeast Thailand.
The airline plans to operate out of Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport four times a week, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
During the introductory period, the fare is 2,390 baht per sector, compared with a standard fare 2,600 baht.
Roi Et was previously served by PB Air, but that link ended last November when the airline went out of business.
Solar’s second destination will be Mae Sot, scheduled for an August 20 launch. It will also operate four times a week, on the same days as Roi Et. The fare will be 2,590 baht, compared with a standard 2,800 baht.
Solar Air’s managing director Jiratid Ong-Aree said that the airline would open another two routes, Nan (three times weekly) and Lampang (four weekly), later this month.
Solar Air has targeted the north and northeast of Thailand as its primary market and does not currently have plans to provide service to Phuket.
Drug dealers from at least six parts of the world are targeting Thai customers, aiming at revelers in Bangkok’s night entertainment venues, Deputy Customs Department Director-General Narin Kalayamitr said on Tuesday.
He said Iranian pushers usually smuggle in “ice flakes”, while Pakistanis are frequently associated with heroin; Filipinos and Africans with cocaine; Indians with ketamines; and Nepalese with marijuana.
Narin said more drugs from Iran were expected to be smuggled into Thailand soon, and that police and customs agents were monitoring future drug trafficking by foreign narcotics rackets.
Narin was speaking after customs agents had arrested four Iranian men for allegedly smuggling into Thailand ice flakes with a street value of 6 million baht, by swallowing and concealing the drug in their stomachs.
— Gazette Editors
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