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Cambodian tour guides cry foul over new tour guide audio Apps

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Cambodian tour guides cry foul over new tour guide audio Apps | The Thaiger

Digital technology is disrupting many older technologies – travel bookings, buying real estate, booking flights, media, dating – and now tour guides are getting the digital make-over with new Apps taking their jobs. Tour guides at Cambodia’s historical sites are voicing concern over a new audio tour App they say is threatening their careers.

Developed by local company Angkor Audio, the App provides spoken tours in 14 languages.

Hem Sophoan, who has worked as a guide since becoming licensed in 2008, told The Phnom Penh Post that the App is hurting the industry and affecting the livelihood of trained guides.

“The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism should encourage tour guide skills because it always provides training courses, so what do those guides do now?,” he asked.

Sophoan says Cambodia has approximately 10,000 working tour guides and if the App finds a large enough audience, it will directly affect their incomes.

The audio tour program is set to launch next year and will cost users $2.99 for the first month of use. Currently, the company is testing it with 30,000 users.

A Spanish-language tour guide in Siem Reap, Kes Theng, said he strongly opposed the new App.

“As a tour guide, I strongly oppose any company that plans to run a tour guide App for Cambodia’s historic sites,” he said, adding that it would lead to poverty.

“Do you want to see the thousands of people working as tour guides become unemployed?” he asked.

The Minister of Tourism, Thong Khon, could not be reached for comment as of press time, while the ministry’s spokesman did not answer a phone call.

The Cambodia Association of Travel Agents adviser Hor Vandy said the App would strengthen the Kingdom’s tourism sector, despite pushing some guides out of business.

“I believe the ministry will consider how best to coordinate with the tour guides,” he said.

Vandy said audio tours are already being used at historical sites in Phnom Penh, and a few in Siem Reap.

Data from the ministry showed that in the first five months of this year, Cambodia received 2.6 million foreign tourists – up 13.5 per cent compared to last year.

The Kingdom is expected to receive 6.2 million tourists this year and seven million a year by 2020.

Cambodian tour guides cry foul over new tour guide audio Apps | News by The Thaiger

STORY: Phnom Penh Post

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Singapore

Gardens by the bay – Singapore’s horticultural showcase

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Gardens by the bay – Singapore’s horticultural showcase | The Thaiger

You don’t have to be a green-thumb to be amazed by this architectural and horticultural wonder.

Gardens by the Bay is an independent organisation responsible for developing and managing one of Asia’s most stunning garden destinations. The destination is a must-see visit on a quick stop over or as part of your extended time in the Lion City. Make sure you allow a full morning or afternoon, even an entire day, to walk around the many exhibits and secret garden worlds.

Gardens by the Bay, opposite the Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore, is led by a multidisciplinary team of professionals who have been involved in the greening of Singapore, working alongside international and local experts to develop the astonishing architectural, arboreal and floral attraction. It’s an ever-evolving, living and breathing display set under two glass domes (an architectural wonder in their own right).

Gardens by the Bay has earned numerous awards and accolades including the World Building of the Year in 2012, the President’s Design Award (Singapore) in 2013, the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Themed Entertainment Association in 2014, the Largest Glass Greenhouse (Flower Dome) in the Guinness World Records for 2015, and even a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2016.

It has an in-house team of skilled landscape designers, horticulturists, arborists, engineers, plant health, garden and turf management experts, as well as plant research and orchid breeding professionals, who leverage on the extensive global network of plant sources cultivated during the development days.

Gardens by the bay - Singapore's horticultural showcase | News by The Thaiger

The two main domes are the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest.

The Flower Dome is a celebration of flowers from around the world with various special displays throughout the year, depending on the seasons. You can meander your way though the extensive paths and walkways, read about the displays or just sit and soak in the wonder of colour.

The Cloud Forest takes you into the world of rainforests where you gaze up in wonder at soaring waterfalls and man-made mountains of lush tropical and cool-climate rainforest species. Or take an elevator up to the top and wander through the tree tops and enjoy the view. This display hits a high note early when you first walk though the doors and are confronted by a 30 metre cascade of water from 10 different man-made waterfalls, the tallest of its type in the world.

Originally constructed as a nature reserve park, a government strategy to convert the city from a “Garden City” to a “City In A Garden”, it is much more than just a botanical garden.

The area encompasses the Cloud Forest, the Flower Dome Conservatory, Heritage Gardens, various art installations and locations to just wander and relax. There are also audio tours available which will take you on a guided tour.

So, so much more than just a garden, it’s an education about bio-diversity, a hugely enjoyable afternoon or evening stroll around the world of plants and flowers. Warmly recommended for the entire family.

The Gardens are located at 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore, opposite the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and adjacent to the Singapore Eye ferris wheel.

Gardens by the bay - Singapore's horticultural showcase | News by The Thaiger

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ASEAN

China has the most atheists, Indonesia and Philippines the most believers

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China has the most atheists, Indonesia and Philippines the most believers | The Thaiger

“According to the survey there is a connection between religiosity, beliefs and socio-demographic characteristics like age, income and education level.”

China is the least believing country in the world but belief in a God gets 100% mention in countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh and Philippines, according to the survey by Gallup International.

According to the survey exploring religious tendencies of 66,000 people in 68 countries across the world, 62 per cent of people in the world define themselves as religious, 74% of people globally believe we have a ‘soul’ and 71% believe in a God. Another 56% believe in heaven, 54% in life after death and 49% in hell.

China has the highest percentage of atheists in the world with 67% not believing in any religion. Every seven out ten people are atheists, more than double than any other country. 23% consider themselves as non-religious. Less than 10% identify themselves as religious in China.

China’s atheist percentage is followed by Japan, a long way behind in second place at 29%, Slovenia (28%) and Chech Republic (25%). Despite rapid industrialisation and urbanisation religion has stayed relevant in the South Korean region with only 23% identifying as atheist.

China has the most atheists, Indonesia and Philippines the most believers | News by The Thaiger

European countries like Belgium (21 %), France (21%) , Sweden (18%) and Iceland (17%) also have a large percentage of believing population.

Bangladesh, Indonesia and Philippines are the most believing countries with entire population claiming to believe in God, soul, hell and heaven. Thailand and Pakistan have 99% believing population, followed by India, Vietnam and Mongolia.

The survey shows that the levels of religiosity diminish as income and education levels increase. While 66% of people with low income affirm to be religious, this percentage drops to 50% among people with higher incomes. The same trend is verified in relation to education levels: 83% of people with lower education level are religious against 49% of higher level.

According to the survey there is a connection between religiosity, beliefs and socio-demographic characteristics like age, income and education level. As education and income levels grow higher, religiosity levels tend to go down. Also, the expression of different beliefs is higher among young people.

The level of education has a considerable influence on the perception of religion by the society. Women and young children show higher percentage for spiritual forces.

China has the most atheists, Indonesia and Philippines the most believers | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Data Leads

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Philippines

Powerful 6.4 earthquake kills five in the Philippines

May Taylor

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Powerful 6.4 earthquake kills five in the Philippines | The Thaiger

PHOTO: AFP

A strong 6.4 magnitude earthquake has struck the southern Philippines, killing five, including one child, destroying property and disrupting power supply. The death toll is expected to rise.

The powerful quake was felt across the Mindanao region, even causing a 3-storey shopping mall to burst into flames. Residents were evacuated and a child was killed when a house collapsed in the town of Datu Paglas.

AFP reports that the quake was 14 kilometres deep and followed by two aftershocks. The Philippines is part of the “Ring of Fire”, a zone of constant seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific.

Several injuries have been reported as a result of falling debris. The shopping mall that caught fire was evacuated when the quake struck, but it’s not yet known if there were still people inside as the fire took hold.

The mall was still on fire three hours later as nearly 100 firemen battled to put it out.

Residents on the coast in Davao fled to higher ground fearing a tsunami, even though a government seismologist reassured people there was no tsunami risk as the quake had occurred inland.

It’s understood that prisoners in the municipal jail in the town of Bansalan were also let out, but placed in handcuffs and held outside for the duration of the evacuation.

SOURCE: AFP

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