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Gardening: Growing healthy fan palms in Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Gardening: Growing healthy fan palms in Phuket | The Thaiger

PHUKET: When I was a boy I had to endure long waits on sooty railway stations – yes, it was the age of steam – whose walls were plastered with gaudy and incongruous posters of seaside resorts with azure seas, golden sands, bronzed maidens and palm trees. Of course, no beach in the UK actually looked remotely like that, and it was only years later that I glimpsed my first grove of real palms as I drove a rickety car across southern Spain.

With global warming, things have changed – there is now a licuala spinosa palm not a hundred yards from my London apartment. But palms remain quintessentially tropical trees, not only graceful additions to almost any Phuket garden, but among the easiest trees to grow. The range is simply vast. One collector in Thailand, I recently read, has no fewer than 90 different licuala palms.

And when you consider that the family of fan palms is only one genus – and that at least 15 of these are native to Thailand, you begin to appreciate the enormity of the task of classifying palms in general.

Fan palms are a good choice for the small garden since they rarely grow more than a few feet tall, and are neat and compact in habit. Mostly a lustrous shade of green, they boast huge, semi-circular leaves which are either divided into segments, or are pleated like the folds of a concertina. In the wild – and species are still being discovered – they are usually found around the margins of swamps or in rain forests. In cultivation they have great potential, not only as landscape subjects in the garden, but also as pot plants. Slow-growing, fan palms prefer part shade and a well-drained, friable, but moist soil.

You can try them indoors, but like all houseplants, they will need periodic relief from indoor conditions. Outdoors, they require a sheltered spot with protection from strong winds, which will play havoc with their sail-like leaves.

Spinosa, an Asian variety sometimes found growing wild near native river banks, is bigger than most, with large roundish leaves divided into square-ended segments, and attractive pendant clusters of red fruit. Grandis, also known as the ruffled fan palm, has pleated leaves on a single stem.

Johannesteijsmannia altifrons
– which must hold the record for the most unpronounceable plant name, is generally classified as a separate species, but it resembles a fan palm with its broadly diamond-shaped foliage and glossy, undivided leaves up to five feet across. It deserves to be better known, and it is gaining in popularity.

Much more mundane, but exceedingly useful is the rhapis or lady palm. Usually planted in clumps – although it can be purchased singly – it has slender trunks covered with fibrous hair, and distinctive fan-shaped leaves, divided into separate leaflets. Capable of enduring dense shade, rhapis will do well in most conditions provided it has adequate moisture at its roots. Deprived of water, some of the fronds will turn brown. Growing to about two meters, rhapis is useful both as a dense screening hedge and for providing lush green cover under taller shrubs and trees.

If you have gardening or environmental concerns, contact Patrick at drpaccampbell @gmail.com. Many of his creative and academic publications can be found at his website: Green galoshes WordPress.

— Patrick Campbell

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Thailand

Air Asia apologises for its “Get off in Thailand” promotion

The Thaiger

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Air Asia apologises for its “Get off in Thailand” promotion | The Thaiger

AirAsia has now apologised following an advertising campaign using the phrase “Get off in Thailand” was posted around the city of Brisbane to promote the airline’s direct route to Bangkok.

Collective Shout, a campaign movement against the objectification of women says the marketing gaff promoted sex tourism in Thailand.

Melinda Liszewski, a campaigner at Collective Shout accused the airline of “promoting sex tourism.”

Air Asia has responded… “AirAsia takes community feedback extremely seriously and the airline sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused from recent concerns raised.”

“AirAsia can confirm the advertising campaign has ended and we instructed our media partners to have the advertising removed as soon as possible today from all locations.”

Brisbane City councillor Kara Cook branded the campaign an “absolute disgrace” and said “it should never have appeared on our city’s streets.”

The Australian regulator Ad Standards said while it had not received any complaints about the advertising on the bus, it had received one complaint about the same advertisement on a billboard.

The same ad is still on a billboard at Brisbane Airport, however the airport tweeted on Monday afternoon that it was being removed as a priority.

AirAsia began a new direct flight route between Brisbane and Bangkok in February this year.

An AirAsia spokesman said the campaign had since ended and the last advertisements were being removed around the city.

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Thai Life

STUDY: Daily marijuana use increases risk of psychotic disorder

The Thaiger

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STUDY: Daily marijuana use increases risk of psychotic disorder | The Thaiger

The legalisation of medical-use marijuana continues to sweep across the globe, recently in Thailand where the roll-out and enactment of practical uses of the new legislation are underway.

But this spread of a new legal credibility of the drug continues whilst possible health risks (or benefits) are not fully understood. Properly medically supervised or scientifically conducted studies continue to come out weekly with varied results about the benefits or dangers of long-term cannabis use.

According to new research published in ‘Lancet Psychiatry‘, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, people who use cannabis daily, as well as those who use high-potency weed, may be three times more likely to develop psychotic disorder than never-users.

The new evidence is consistent with previous experiments that suggest heavy use and high THC concentration cannabis – a 10% concentration of THC (the psychoactive substance within cannabis) or higher – can be harmful to mental health.

Dr. Marta Di Forti, lead author and a clinician scientist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London said the ‘Psychotic disorder’ was precisely what was studied.

“We are talking about people who meet diagnostic criteria and come to the attention of mental health services to receive treatment for psychosis. So they have to have symptoms of psychosis across the spectrum – hallucination, delusions – that have lasted at least for a week.”

Currently, medical cannabis is legal in most European countries, though recreational use is only legal in Netherlands, Czech Republic and Spain (in certain situations). Meanwhile many other countries continue to discuss legalisation.

Di Forti and her co-authors pf the paper looked at data from five countries in Europe… UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and France. Brazil was also included in the sample where cannabis is illegal.

They found 901 patients with a first-time episode of psychosis over a five-year period and compared them to 1,237 matched non-patients.

Daily use of cannabis was more common among patients with psychosis compared to the controls, they found. About 30% of patients reported using cannabis daily compared to just 7% of non-patient controls. And use of high potency cannabis was also more common among patients than controls – 37% compared to 19%.

The study results do not provide enough information for her to say “use only this amount, only this often” to remain safe.

At this stage, the paper estimates one in five new cases of psychosis may be linked to daily cannabis use, and one in 10 cases linked to use of high potency cannabis.

You can read the full report in Lancet Psychiatry.

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Air Pollution

Chiang Mai ‘s tourism holds up despite smoke and smog

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Chiang Mai ‘s tourism holds up despite smoke and smog | The Thaiger

Chiang Mai’s current poor air quality and smoke haze is raising concerns on the potential impact on tourism as Thailand’s Songkran water festival approaches.

Smog has been a yearly occurrence in Northern Thailand, but this year the situation appears to be the worst with Chiang Mai topping the air pollution ranking and the media tracking daily results.

But La-iad Bungsrithong, president of the Thai Hotels Association (Northern Chapter), says there appears to be a short-term decline in the market.

However, she attributes the current performance to March being part of the traditional low season rather than the pollution, adding that there has been no booking cancellation from leisure or MICE guests.

The Songkran festival typically sees leisure demand for Chiang Mai from South-east Asia, Europe, China and Thailand. According to La-iad, room occupancy in April last year was 65 per cent, reaching 85 per cent during the Songkran period (April 12-14).

She expects similar figures for Songkran this year but also greater competition arising from new hotels around Chiang Mai and Airbnb.

Similarly, a spokesperson of Standard tour, Somchai Sandnee, said the company’s business has not been affected by the air pollution. Chinese tourists are less perturbed by smog issues than political turmoil and recent events such as the boat accident in Phuket last year, Somchai pointed out.

Chotechuang Soorangura, associate managing director of NS Travel & Tours, also says he doesn’t see the smog having an impact on sales.

“The smog is considered an annual situation and our company always (issues) an advice to customers. In the case where customers really want to visit Chiang Mai, we will suggest they limit their stays in the city in favour of other provinces instead such as Sukhothai,” Chotechuang explained.

SOURCE: ttgasia.com

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