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Phuket Gardening: Gift-wrapped for gardeners

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gardening: Gift-wrapped for gardeners | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Garden tools. Ah…Hardly romantic, but, even at Christmas, likely to be appreciated by the hands-on horticulturalist.

At the risk of sounding sexist, more for the men in your life. A simple choice would be a pair of secateurs.

It doesn’t matter if the intended recipient has a pair – she can always keep another pair handy in the car. Think of all those opportunities you have had for snipping a twig or two from a roadside shrub or tree.

I have gone through five pairs since I came to Phuket – a reflection of both my own proclivities and of the tool’s variable quality. You can go for the anvil type or the much commoner bypass style, which operates like scissors. But remember the cheap ones are unlikely to stay the course. ‘Spring’ and get a sturdy bypass pair for 229 baht.

Oh, and speaking of cheap pressies, garden gloves with leather palms at 39 baht will take some beating. When recently cutting down a bougainvillea that had, characteristically, outgrown its surroundings, I ended up with plenty of scratches. Gloves would have helped.

Another stocking filler might come in the shape of a garden sprayer. You can use one with a simple trigger mechanism, but a better choice is a hand-pumped compression sprayer, usually holding a liter or two of liquid, which allows you to mix small amounts of chemicals, and thus avoid waste. It’s useful both for “misting” indoor plants and for applying pesticides. Available for 89 baht, it is, like the other items, on sale at Home Pro, Chalong, or as they tend to say, “at good stores everywhere.”

In the tropics, one quickly realizes that pruning, trimming and cutting are the inevitable consequence of growing plants, especially woody ones, which take off like an express once they are established. And secateurs are only good for small branches. Anything over half an inch is likely to need something stronger.

Something more robust inevitably means something larger or more cumbrous. Not easy to gift-wrap. Loppers, for instance, are going to be two or three feet in length.

Nonetheless, they are an essential in the Phuket gardener’s armory: the long handles offer far more leverage than secateurs, and they have the additional merit of enabling you to cut among thorny branches without losing too much blood. Look for a shock-absorber below the pivot point. Prices range from 200 to 600 baht.

Hedge shears are better for rapid trimming of shrubs and hedges. Some have serrations or notches in one blade, which can hold thicker branches while you cut. For small areas of grass, go for a strimmer.

A bow saw will tackle those tasks that even shears or a lopper cannot manage. It’s a better choice than a conventional saw because it is less likely to get stuck during the cutting process, and has a blade which can easily be replaced for about 100 baht. Cost 250 baht and upwards, complete with disposable blade. All these tools will need some maintenance: the odd spray with WD 40 will inhibit rust.

If you want to offer a present that is less palpably destructive, think about small digging and planting tools. A trowel is always handy, both for transplanting seedlings and for removing weeds.

A longer handle may suit people who have difficulty in bending down. A small fork serves a similar function. Now available in hard-wearing plastic, the best ones are still made of stainless steel. Available for 77 baht. The same applies to long-handled spades, forks and rakes. The better the quality, the more likely the implement is to survive in a climate where the elements usually win.

The presents are getting bigger every year. And we haven’t even got to wheel-barrows and mowers…

Tip of week – Go nuts with coconuts
Most coconut palms (cocos nucifera) are too big for the average Phuket garden.

If you want a solitary but manageable variety, the foxtail palm (wodyetia), with its smooth trunk and neat, feathery fronds, is a better bet.

But coconut palms are readily available, cost next to nothing, grow easily and are ideal for larger acreages, or when planted to form an avenue of trees. Silhouetted against a Phuket sunset, they look magnificent.

There is another reason for growing them. I am not thinking of their value as a major food source, though Thai dishes rely heavily on coconut milk, or of the use of leaves for thatching, or even of the durable timber.

Rather, I am mindful of the environmental need to preserve their presence on an island where the depredations of the hispine beetle have already left gaunt, leafless trees in many coconut groves.

By planting coconuts, you will be helping to ensure their survival.

If you have a question or a garden that you would like featured, you can email the author here.

Keep checking our online
Phuket Lifestyle pages or join our Facebook fan page for regular gardening features and tips.

— Patrick Campbell

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

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Thailand

21% of Thai teenagers are gambling

Greeley Pulitzer

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21% of Thai teenagers are gambling | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Gambling, local style, Rai Et, north-east Thailand – Pinterest

Early in October the Thai Health Promotion Foundation met to discuss the gambling situation in Thailand in 2019. Also present were the Centre for Gambling Studies, Stop Gambling Foundation and related groups.

The meeting was set up after a report revealed that more than half (57%) of the Thai population, or 30.42 million people, gamble. The director-general of the Centre for Gambling Studies at Chulalongkorn University shared the report, which was based on data from a survey of 44,050 people across 77 provinces.

The figure is an increase of 1.49 million people from 2017. While most Thai gamblers are of working age, 2.4% of the total were aged between 15-18 years. This means that 21% of that age group are gambling.

According to California’s Council on Problem Gambling, youth, like everyone else, gamble for many reasons, including entertainment; socialisation; competition; loneliness, and boredom; to get rich quick; to impress others; be the centre of attention; make new friends, and because winning provides an instant, temporary boost of confidence.

“The California Council on Problem Gambling lists depression as one reason youth turn to gambling, noting that depression can just as easily be an effect as a cause. This is especially important to note in a country like Thailand.”

In an article in The ASEAN Post, it was noted that in December 2017, Thailand’s Department of Mental Health (DMH) reported that an estimated one million teenagers are believed to suffer from depression, many of whom go untreated, with two million more are at risk, making upward of three million among a population of eight million teens then.

The DMH said that stress and anxiety may affect a student’s ability to concentrate and perform well at school, and they may show several warning signs, such as lack of attention, loss of interest in daily activities, lethargy, sadness, and sleeping issues.

“It is clear from studies that depression and gambling go hand-in-hand: the unfortunate case in Thailand is that it is affecting children too.”

SOURCE: The ASEAN Post

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Bangkok

Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare

Greeley Pulitzer

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Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare | The Thaiger

A professor of Rangsit University has criticised the previous military government for focusing too much on tourism and not enough on the welfare of the Thai people. The professor was speaking at Chulalongkorn University at a seminar discussing street stalls and urban development.

She questioned the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy of clearing street vendors in all but a few areas such as Yaowarat and Khao San Road that mainly cater to tourists.

She claimed that the NCPO – in power since the coup of 2014 until this year’s election – was more interested in economic development through tourism than in the welfare of the public.

Having affordable street food options was not just about tourism, she said, it was vital for poor workers who have migrated from the countryside, adding that it was part of an informal rather than a formal economy.

“For years people had earned their living from selling goods and services, including food, on the streets.”

This in turn provided an affordable option to eat for workers who came to Bangkok on for large investment projects. The issue, she said, was not just about tourism but the wider economy that might benefit.

The professor noted that CNN had once called Bangkok the best place in the world for street food but this had changed with the sanitized food trucks that have appeared since stalls and vendors were banned from most areas.

The Thaiger notes that banning street vendors has divided the capital. Many are happy that the sidewalks are easier to navigate, but others – including tourists – have said that the lifeblood and character of the city has suffered.

SOURCE: Naew Na | ThaiVisa Forum

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Chiang Rai

Journey back to Tham Luang in ‘The Cave’ – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Journey back to Tham Luang in ‘The Cave’ – VIDEO | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Tom Waller on site during the filming of The Cave – AFP

Determined divers racing against time. Rising waters threatening lives. 12 teenagers and their soccer coach trapped inside for two weeks. A remote cave that most had never heard of.

The stuff of a Hollywood drama, except that it’s all true and happened in Chiang Rai last year. Now the first of several re-tellings of the story comes to the big screen in The Cave.

The ordeal in late June and early July last year had barely ended when filmmakers began their own race to get the nail-biting drama onto cinema screens. The first of those projects premiered at the start of October, when director Tom Waller’s The Cave showed at the Busan Film Festival in South Korea.

The film was shot over three months earlier this year and has been in post-production since then. The 45 year old Thai-British filmmaker says the epic tale of the Wild Boars (Mu Pa) football team was a story he simply had to tell.

“I took the view that this was going to be a story about the people we didn’t know about, about the cave divers who came all the way from across the planet.”

The 13 young men entered the Tham Luang cave complex after soccer practice and were quickly trapped inside by rising floodwater. The boys were forced to spend nine nights lost in the cave, whilst Navy Seal and other diver searched frantically, before they were spotted by a British diver.

It would take another eight days before they were all safe, against all odds, in a risky mission.

Waller was visiting his father in Ireland when he saw television news accounts of the drama.

“I thought this would be an amazing story to tell on screen.”

But putting the parts together after their dramatic rescue proved to be a challenge. Thailand’s government, led by the military NCPO, became very protective of the story, barring unauthorised access to the Mu Pa team or their parents. Waller often feared his production might be shut down.

His good fortune was that the events at the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province had multiple angles and interesting characters. Especially compelling were the stories of the rescuers, particularly the expert divers who rallied from around the world. He decided to make a film “about the volunteer spirit of the rescue.”

Other people proposed telling the story from the point of view of the boys, and Netflix nailed down those rights in a deal brokered by the Thai government.

“I took the view that this was going to be a story about the people we didn’t know about, about the cave divers who came all the way from across the planet. They literally dropped everything to go and help, and I just felt that that was more of an exciting story to tell, to find out how these boys were brought out and what they did to get them out.”

Waller even had more than a dozen key rescue personnel play themselves.

Waller said they were natural actors, blending in almost seamlessly with the professionals around them, and helped by the accuracy of the settings and the production’s close attention to detail.

“What you are really doing is asking them to remember what they did and to show us what they were doing and what they were feeling like at the time. That was really very emotional for some of them because it was absolutely real.”

Waller says his film is likely to have a visceral effect on some viewers, evoking a measure of claustrophobia.

“It’s a sort of immersive experience with the sound of the environment, you know, the fact that is very dark and murky, that the water is not clear.”

“In Hollywood films, when they do underwater scenes, everything is crystal clear. But in this film it’s murky and I think that’s the big difference. This film lends itself to being more of a realistic portrayal of what happened.”

Some scenes were filmed on location at the entrance to the actual Tham Luang cave, but most of the action was shot elsewhere.

“We filmed in real water caves that were flooded, all year-round. It is very authentic in terms of real caves, real flooded tunnels, real divers and real creepy-crawlies in there. So it was no mean feat trying to get a crew to go and film in these caves.”

The Cave goes on general release in Thailand on November 28.

ORIGINAL ARTICE: Associated Press | Time.com

Journey back to Tham Luang in 'The Cave' - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Tom Waller – Associated Press/Sakchai Lalit

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