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Pabuk: The worst is over as southern Thailand mops up

The Thaiger

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The potential for any further problems associated with Tropical Storm Pabuk are diminished as the remnants of the storm continue to move westward and out to sea away from the Andaman Coast.

The general consensus is that, whilst unseasonal and packing high wind speeds (for Thailand), the storm’s impact was less than predicted causing minimal damage to infrastructure in the region.

The Thai Meteorological Department say that the storm made landfall in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Pak Phanang district at 4pm Friday, packing winds speeds of up to 75 kilometres per hour. The wind speeds, whilst high for Thailand, were not ‘cyclonic’ or as high as a ‘typhoon’. But the unseasonal nature of the storm, arriving in January, was a very rare weather event.

The last major tropical storm to hit the southern coastal Gulf region in January was all the way back in 1962. It started, just like Pabuk, as a weather system off the western coast of the Philippines.

It also made landfall near Nakhon Si Thammarat on October 25, 1962, as winds peaked at 95 kph.

Harriet claimed the lives of at least 769 residents in the south of Thailand, with around 142 people reported missing, presumed dead, and 252 severe injuries.

Pabuk: The worst is over as southern Thailand mops up | News by The Thaiger

The difference this time was the vastly improved weather prediction systems, the preparedness of officials and emergency responders, precautionary evacuations, closure of marine activities and improved building codes. You can imagine in 1962 the bamboo and shanty structures that would have adorned the shores of the southern coastal regions half a century ago.

Government officials left little to chance in preparations for Pabuk in the wake of several high profile marine safety issues in 2018 which attracted a lot of negative media about Thailand’s commitment and readiness to look the growing number of tourists visiting the Kingdom.

Whilst there will be potential for winds and high waves today (Saturday), the danger is fading as the storm makes its way into the Indian Ocean and away from the Phang Nga coastline.

Surat Thani, Phang Nga and Phuket all forecast winds of up to 30 kph today and potential for rain storms, but the weather will continue to improve in all southern regions throughout Saturday.

The Thaiger expects authorities to lift its ban on the movement of tour boats and shipping around the Andaman sometime today which will allow the resumption of tourist and commercial traffic from tomorrow (Sunday).

Meanwhile, hundreds of stranded tourists were stuck at Koh Samui Airport, as Pabuk made its way through the region. Flights to the island were cancelled – as well as boats – leaving thousands of holidaymakers who hadn’t earlier fled the island stranded.

The Thaiger will continue to keep you up to date with any important announcements or milestones in weather events as the day goes. It is expected than most airline traffic will return to normal today. Surat Thani and Koh Samui airports were closed, among others, during the height of storm alerts yesterday.

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Thailand

Is Koh Pha Ngan Thailand’s best island?

Caitlin Ashworth

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Is Koh Pha Ngan Thailand’s best island? | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

OPINION

Koh Pha Ngan was voted third best island in Asia in the 2020 Condé Nast’s Readers Choice Awards. The island is widely known for its monthly Full Moon parties on Haad Rin beach, but Surat Thani governor Wichawut Jinto, who boasted about the island’s recent rating, said there’s more to Koh Pha Ngan than Haad Rin.

Condé Nast publishes a monthly travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveller, as well as GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue. It’s safe to say the publication’s target audience is more interested in luxury resorts than dirt cheap party hostels and monthly beach raves. For example, for the best islands in the United States, Hilton Head Island in South Carolina was voted number 1. It’s a golf lovers paradise and a popular vacation spot for suburban families.

A trip Koh Pha Ngan can be a completely different experience depending on where you go and what you do. Some stay on Haad Rin on the southeastern side of the island and have a trip like Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-fueled “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” while some go to the western side for a yoga or healing retreat.

The Full Moon parties, which would draw more than 30,000 mostly foreign tourists, was put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions in Thailand. But before the outbreak, the parties were known to be crazy with neon glow paint, fire jump rope and cheap buckets of alcohol and use of illicit drugs. The sand was so sticky that people were better off wearing shoes, and just about everyone pees (and pukes) in the ocean.

Even on the west side of the island, where it’s more known for yoga and meditation retreats, things can sometimes get a little weird. A tourist said she did a “spiritual healing” ritual on the island known as a kambo cleanse where secretion from a South American frog is applied to burnt skin. She said “I feels like you’re dying” but “it’s great.”

While the west side of the island has trendy resorts and bungalows, as well as a variety of yoga retreats and pricy vegan food, some people also live on a budget – a very tight budget. Some tourists even camped out on a hidden beach during the pandemic, a tourist claims. A local artist said he lives in a cave on the same beach.

Koh Pha Ngan topped Bali, Indonesia, which was number 9 on the list. Phuket was number 8 on the list and Koh Samui was number 10.

Here’s what made the top 10 Asia islands in the Condé Nast Reader’s Choice Awards 2020.

  1. Cebu & Visayas, Philippines 95.83
  2. Sri Lanka 95.45
  3. Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand 95.30
  4. Palawan, Philippines 95.22
  5. Siargao Island, Philippines 95.19
  6. Boracay, Philippines 95.06
  7. Lombok, Indonesia 94.59
  8. Phuket, Thailand 94.12
  9. Bali, Indonesia 93.27
  10. Koh Samui, Thailand 92.73

SOURCES: Condé Nast | Bangkok Post

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Tourism

Koh Pha Ngan and Chiang Mai win gongs in the latest Condé Nast Traveler Awards

The Thaiger

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Koh Pha Ngan and Chiang Mai win gongs in the latest Condé Nast Traveler Awards | The Thaiger

Koh Pha Ngan, a short ferry ride from Koh Samui off the coast of mainland Surat Thani, is the ‘third best island in Asia’, according to a vote in the readers’ choice awards by Conde Nast Traveler. Thailand also ranked in 7th place in the ‘Top 20 Countries in the World list.

Topping the ‘Best Asian islands’ list were Cebu & Visayas, Philippines and Sri Lanka. Koh Pha Ngan, at 3rd place, is the home of Rin Nok beach where party-going tourists gather for the monthly full moon parties. But they’ve been shut down since April when Thailand shut its borders. Two other Philippine islands – and Siargao and Palawan – made up the top 5.

But Surat Thani’s governor Wichawut Jinto maintains there is more to Koh Pha Ngan than its full moon parties.

“The island boasts a blend of nightlife and beautiful natural scenery. The beach is a perfect cove flanked by mountains.”

“Koh Phangan also has other beautiful beaches such as Thong Nai Pan, Khuad and Yao beaches. Apart from the beaches, Than Sadet waterfall is also a landmark attraction.”

In other Condé Nast Traveler Awards, Chiang Mai was placed 2nd on the ‘Top 10 Best Small Cities’. Who was number 1? San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Bangkok, often a contender in the Best Big Cities Awards, didn’t even figure in the Top 10 on the Condé Nast list this year. Kyoto, Japan, scored top spot in the Big City list this time.

Koh Pha Ngan and Chiang Mai win gongs in the latest Condé Nast Traveler Awards | News by The Thaiger

Of course the TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn, seized the opportunity.

“We are always proud to see Thailand on this list, but in this challenging year when the Covid-19 restrictions are affecting international travel, it is indeed a very special honour.”

“We would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the readers of Condé Nast Traveler as well as travellers from across the globe for their confidence in Thailand. When all difficulties from the Covid-19 pandemic have improved, Thailand will certainly be more than ready to welcome international tourists once again.”

But this year’s Condé Nast Traveller Awards were announced at a time when much of the world isn’t travelling. The magazine says the names in this year’s edition were the ones that “brought voters comfort”, that they “still connected with” long afterward and got them through the months without travel.

“These are the enduring gems that can withstand the test of time and the vicissitudes of circumstances. So while it is always an honour to be on this list, in this strangest of years, it is a special honour, indeed.”

“Many readers have told us that when we emerge from this pandemic, they want to turn their attention to the classics, whether that means personal favourites or places they know have brought joy to others.”

For more information on Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2020, check the full list HERE.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

2 foreigners in same hotel as the Koh Samui woman test positive for Covid-19

Maya Taylor

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2 foreigners in same hotel as the Koh Samui woman test positive for Covid-19 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Agoda

Officials are reviewing the use of a Samut Prakan hotel, just outside Bangkok, as a quarantine facility, after 3 foreign nationals staying there tested positive for Covid-19. The first was a 57 year old woman who developed symptoms of the virus after she had completed 14 days’ quarantine and had returned to her home on the island of Koh Samui. It’s understood the woman has both Thai and French citizenship; she was born in Thailand and is married to a French national.

Yesterday, Sophon Iamsirithavorn from the General Communicable Diseases Division, confirmed 2 more foreigners staying at the same hotel, in the central province of Samut Prakan, also tested positive. All 3 are now receiving hospital treatment, but Sophon says officials are still not sure how they became infected or if their cases are even linked. He adds that the hotel, named in a Bangkok Post report as the Siam Mandarina, may not meet the required standard of an alternative state quarantine facility.

Thai PBS World reports that the hotel has been thoroughly disinfected by health authorities after traces of Covid-19 were found on equipment in the hotel gym. It’s understood the Disease Control Department is in talks with Samut Prakan health officials regarding a possible suspension of the hotel as a quarantine ‘ASQ’ facility.

Officials are also deciding whether to release those currently quarantining in the hotel once they’ve completed their 14 days, or whether they should be required to install a tracking app on their phones or other means to trace them post-quarantine. Tests are also being carried out on each of the 3 patients to determine if there is a match between the virus strains in each of them.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World | Bangkok Post

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