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A Decade Ago: Angry taxi drivers and a “Poop-free Patong Bay’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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A Decade Ago: Angry taxi drivers and a “Poop-free Patong Bay’ | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong is making great efforts – with what appears to be the buds of success – to make metered taxis a pillar of public transport on the island. However, a decade ago, then-Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura was hearing a different tune as his metered-taxi push left his car stuck in a sea of furious airport ‘limousine’ drivers.

The man was simply about to pop out of Provincial Hall for lunch when about 100 angry drivers surrounded his vehicle, preventing him from moving for more than two hours – one can imagine the pangs of hunger.

At this point in time and for years to come, it was par for the course to see such a thuggish backlash to the governor’s alleged threats of sourcing Army muscle to ensure that the airport limousine drivers did not attempt to intimidate metered taxi drivers.

The irony, which those who have been on the island for at least more than a year can enjoy, is that it in fact did take the National Council of Peace and Order mobilizing the Army to root out the deeply-entrenched, illegal taxi mafia. However, even that effort has not completely seen us out of the jungle, as the lack of public transportation continues to be an unsightly stain on Phuket’s reputation as an international tourism destination.

That topic was on page one of the August 6 Issue of the Phuket Gazette but hiding just inside the cover was a classic headline and revelation: ‘Tsunami flushed out Patong Bay’. Though it took less than 10 years for the bay to once again play host to water of questionable quality, it turned out that levels of harmful bacteria in the bay, which were associated with untreated human waste being discharged directly into it, had been reduced to nearly zero. Those were again the days of poop-free Patong, though as we all know – they did not last.

Much like the water-quality levels, tourist levels – as we now know – would also return to pre-tsunami levels. However, with the tourism industry suffering, the Gazette asked: “With about three months to go to until November 1 – the official start of the tourist high season – can tourist arrival numbers return to pre-tsunami levels?”

At that point, the concern was not about whether the Russian market would be coming or even the Chinese – who was even thinking of such markets 10 years ago? The real question was whether or not the Scandinavians had faith in the effectiveness of the recently implemented tsunami-warning system and would once again grace our shores. The answer of course was that the numbers would quickly surpass pre-tsunami arrivals, though perhaps we should have been more careful for what we wished for.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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

Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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Thailand

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC

The Thaiger

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Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | The Thaiger

The upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship Fight Night event in Abu Dhabi will feature Thailand’s only national marking her third fight with the UFC, the world’s largest mixed martial arts competition. 24 year old Loma Lookboonme, from Burirram in northeastern Thailand, will fight in the event on October 3, 2020.

Loma is a Muay Thai fighter who has adapted her MMA skills to fight in the UFC where she currently trains at the Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket. Loma qualified for the national team at the age of 19 and has fought in over 12 nations worldwide. She currently trains 6 days a week starting daily at 6:30am with a 3 kilometre run. In the UFC, she will be competing against China’s Angela Lee who is the undisputed champion of the 52 kilogram fist weight category.

Phuket Muay Thai fighter is the first Thai national to compete in UFC | News by The Thaiger

Loma’s parents are former Muay Thai fighters and her 2 sisters currently compete as well. She reportedly started training at 8 years old after being inspired by her father, whom she describes as her “hero.”

Like most Thais in such fighting sports, Muay Thai offers a way to rise out of poverty-and fighting for the UFC can be financially lucrative. But Loma says her only Thai sponsor is the gym where she trains, with the rest of her sponsors being from foreign brands. She says she is trying to get more Thai sponsors but feels that maybe she needs to win the UFC first before Thai brands notice her.

Loma lost her last fight and says her new opponent gives her nothing to lose. She says her goal is to get into the Top 10, but is not sure when it will happen. Loma says for now, it would be good to fight against someone in the Top 10 to help her prepare for her future.

FULL INTERVIEW: Thisrupt.co

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Tourism

Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs

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Phuket airport ready for tourists after finishing Covid screening labs | The Thaiger

Phuket Airport is officially ready for tourists as authorities say they have finished installing Covid screening labs in an effort to welcome international travellers. The 5T Model for Covid-19 is being used at the airport with the goal of screening large groups of people in a quick and efficient manner. The Phuket health chief says the 5T’s stand for Target, Testing, Treating, Trusting and Tracing.

Phuket has one large airport at the north end of the island but is separated into two separate terminals – a domestic terminal (the original airport terminal), and a new international terminal opened in 2016.

The target category refers to the target groups of tourists while the tracing stands for software that will be used to monitor their movements. The testing category refers to Covid tests that will be implemented to travellers upon arrival along with the treatment and trust categories signifying the readiness of resources for medical treatment and confident communications between all parties respectively.

The Covid-19 lab container module has been set up at Phuket airport’s Terminal X (the terminal opened for charter flights opened in 2014) and will be tested tomorrow with its operation to start on September 30. As large groups of tourists could arrive (later in the year, the lab is reportedly capable of testing 96 people at a time with test results becoming available in 6 hours. What the airport would do withe tested passengers whilst waiting for 6 hours, has not been detailed at this stage.

Such a readiness plan to welcome foreign tourists originally singled out Phuket due to its popularity with travellers, and as a so-called guinea pig model to test in a controlled environment (Phuket is an island joined to the Thai mainland by a single 300 metre road bridge). Once dubbed the Phuket Model, authorities have proposed to rename the plan to “Special Tourist Visa” due to the confusion and opposition it reportedly caused. The scheme is reportedly now being proposed for all areas of Thailand but only allowing foreigners from specific countries.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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