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Phuket Lifestyle: Going, going, gone

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Lifestyle: Going, going, gone | The Thaiger

PHUKET: World Environmental Day, which was on June 5, has a special meaning for Phuket-based photographer Chusak Uthaipanumas. Twenty years ago, on this day, he received an accolade at the quadrennial photo contest on the environment organized by United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

The photographer traveled to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, to attend the UNEP award ceremony. It was an event witnessed by many world dignitaries, the proudest moment of his working life.

Selected from more than a thousand international participants, Chusak’s work entitled “Sorrowful Lifestyle”, a moody and poignant depiction of two children sitting on the edge of a vast expanse of parched, cracked earth, won second prize in the “professional” category.

Chusak, now 53 years old, was no stranger to acclaim. Having worked as a photographer since the 1980s, he has amassed over five hundred national and international prizes. What marks the UNEP recognition out was the fact that it acknowledged the drive and ideals behind the body of his work.

Chusak’s style of working is to take many photographs of one place, a landscape for example, over a period of weeks, months and even years, covering the changes of the seasons, climate and environment, whether these changes are natural or man-made. His photo-documentary style tells stories of seasons, terrain and communities.

The award-winning picture, for example, was of a dry and cakey swamp, taken in Korat, in the northeast of Thailand, where the extreme heat of the summer usually takes its toll on the farmers there. Chusak explained: ” When I was in Rio to receive the award, people came up to me and asked if Thailand could be that dry. They associated this extreme harshness with parts of Africa and my photo came as a surprise to them.”

He then proceeds to show me another picture of the same place, in the rainy season this time. It shows a large lake full of water, lotus plants in full bloom, and children frolicking joyfully. This picture won both the grand prize and the grand honorary prize at the Ballantine’s Photography Awards in England. He is the first person in the world to win both awards in the same year.

Chusak came to Phuket 25 years ago and says he was touched by the island’s pristine beauty and started to take many pictures of its scenery. He always took notes during the photo excursions to remind himself of any peculiarities he found in certain places – the angle of the sun, the times of the tides and any particular landmarks.

Chusak, who by now has become very familiar with the whole terrain, says he has witnessed many sad changes in Phuket’s landscape, mostly due to human ignorance.

The most famous landmark of Phuket, Laem Promthep, is a case in point. Arguably, the most photographed spot on the island, the picture of the alluring sunset with silhouettes of palm trees, figures prominently on many tourist brochures and other promotional material.

The palms, Chusak says, died over the year, and changed the whole vista. “I noticed the change in my negative spaces.” Concerned with the outlook of this iconic spot, the photographer took it upon himself to report this to the authorities in order to replace the dead trees with new ones.

“I don’t see why we can preserve the old town and not Laem Promthep. This place is the identity of the whole island and should be kept that way.”

He also says that he doesn’t agree with having shops there. Commerce, he says, creates its own set of problems. “Why do we always have to entice tourists to shop, anyway?”

Move over to another beach, the idyllic Rawai in southern of Phuket, home to Chao Lae or the Sea Gypsies of Phuket. Chusak has been taking photographs here since the 1980s when the Chao Lae children wore nothing and the women often went topless. His record of this community in the last decade, he says, was unique and might become important historical documentation.

Now the sea gypsies wear jeans and sport wrist-watches and the wood and thatch houses gave way to brick and mortar construction. Satellite dishes are now very much part of the landscape.

“I don’t blame the Chao Lae for wanting a better lifestyle. However, there must be a way to curb and manage the development in a way that still preserves their unique way of life. They are part of our society and as such we must all help them remain that way. To me this is so much better than just building a museum to house their heritage. Their livelihood is a living museum.”

In the light of the relentless changes that are happening all around us, Chusak will for now have to be content with doing what he does best – taking pictures to show the world that it’s changing too fast.

— Nanthapa Pengkasem

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Phuket

Top 10 ways to save water at home

The Thaiger

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Top 10 ways to save water at home | The Thaiger

Hot weather and Thailand’s boom-or-bust water issues (floods in wet season and water shortages in the hot season) are a part of our life. And it’s predicted that there will be hotter hot seasons and wetter wet-seasons in the future. Even if we’re not sure what the future brings we should all be conscious of our water usage, be more self-sufficient and empower ourselves to do something positive to protect Thailand’s precious water reserves.

Here are a few ideas that may help you become more water-wise…

• Shower with a bucket. Don’t let all that water pour down the drain and stick a bucket next to you whilst you shower. The plants will be grateful for an extra drink on hot days and save you using the hose sometimes. Whilst you’re at it, cut your 5 minute shower down to three minutes. Really, you can sing somewhere else! And, really, do we absolutely have to have four showers a day? No. A fresh spray of the deodorant and a fresh shirt will be perfectly OK during water shortages. For couples, well, shower together!

• Leave the water running whilst brushing your teeth? Try turning it off until you want to rinse out your mouth. All that useable water flowing down the basic drain whilst you’re brushing isn’t making your teeth any whiter! Same when you’re washing your hands or washing your hair. Turn off the tap whilst you’re doing all the scrubbing. These little habits could end up saving tens of litres every time you do these common tasks.

Top 10 ways to save water at home | News by The Thaiger

• Boiling pasta? Rice? Eggs? Once the left-over water has cooled use it to water your indoor or outdoor plants. Just make sure the water has cooled first!

• Washing the car at a car wash is more efficient than doing it yourself at home. Car wash businesses recycle a lot of their water. Even better, drive around with a dirty car now and then – it’s not hurting you or the car and will save water by delaying your car wash.

Top 10 ways to save water at home | News by The Thaiger

• Lawns use lots of water and daily watering during the hot season can soak up hundreds of litres of valuable. Letting your lawn go brown, be assured it will come back in the wet season. And long-term, landscape accordingly with water wise ground covers, succulents, and other plants that thrive in drought conditions. Lawns may be a luxury we can’t afford in these water-conscious times.

• Only run the dishwasher when it’s full. Even better wash the dishes by hand. Dishwashing machines are notable water wasters. Grab you partner or a friend and have a chat or a laugh for the five minutes it will take you to wash the dishes by hand. You could save up to 50-100 litres of water! And fill up the sink once and do all the washing together without leaving the water running all the time.

Top 10 ways to save water at home | News by The Thaiger

• Whilst it hasn’t been a worry in the past, our useable potable water supplies around Thailand are becoming an issue that won’t be fixed immediately. Consider installing a simple rain catchment system. They can be cheap or expensive and should be considered if you’re building a new house as an integral part of the design. Your roof is an amazing water-catcher. Use it.

• Flush the toilet less often and with less water. Most modern toilets have a half-flush option and there are other tricks to reducing the re-fill in your toilet’s cistern – putting a brick into your cistern is one way (gently!).

• Water the plants early in the morning. You’ll need less water, since cooler morning temperatures mean less evaporation. It’s not a great idea to water in the evenings, since this can promote mould growth in the humid Thai weather and hot evenings. And you really don’t need to water the driveway. It’s not growing. No one is going to walk past your house and compliment you on your sparkling clean drive-way.

• The dog WILL survive without being washed every day, or week. Indeed our dogs used to survive perfectly well without being washed at all. If the family pooch does need a wash try and use some of the water you saved from the bucket in the shower and be careful not to leave the hose on whilst rubbing in the shampoo. As for the cat, it is genetically programmed to clean itself better than you could ever hope to. Leave the cat alone – it DOES NOT need to be washed.

Top 10 ways to save water at home | News by The Thaiger

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Business

Strong growth from key markets compensate for slight dip in Chinese tourists

The Thaiger

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Strong growth from key markets compensate for slight dip in Chinese tourists | The Thaiger

by Thanchanok Phobut | Senior Coordinator, Thailand

CBRE, international property consultants, believe that the Thai tourism market is still as resilient as ever.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports announced they are expecting more than 40 million tourists to visit Thailand this year, up from the record-breaking 38.3 million last year. According to the latest figures, the first two months of 2019 showed a 2.5% year-on-year growth in international tourist arrivals at 7.3 million, compared to 7.1 million the previous year.

In the first two months of 2019, the total number of Chinese tourist arrivals decreased slightly by 2.2% – 2.17 million in 2018 to 2.12 million this year. Chinese tourist arrivals in February, the month in which the Chinese New Year was celebrated this year, decreased by 12.3% year-on-year.

Other key feeder markets like Malaysia, India, Korea, and Japan showed double-digit growth in the first two months of 2019, with India having the highest growth at 20.1% year-on-year. Even though the combined number of tourists from these four feeder markets was smaller than that of the Chinese market alone, this positive trend could replace any loss of Chinese tourists. The challenge remains for Thailand to win back this biggest feeder market now that the most significant holiday for Chinese people has passed.

Bangkok still attracts tourists from around the world. The number of international tourist arrivals to Bangkok in the first two months of 2019 was 4.68 million, a 3% year-on-year growth. The development of a third runway in Suvarnabhumi International Airport, approved by the government on April 17, will strengthen Bangkok’s capacity to handle larger numbers of tourists in the future.

“In the first quarter of 2019, Rosewood Bangkok, a 159 key luxury hotel next to Phloen Chit BTS station, opened its doors to the public. This was one of Bangkok’s most highly-anticipated luxury hotel openings together with Capella Bangkok and Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok on the Chao Phraya River, both of which will open later this year, underpinning renewed interest in the riverside area and capitalising on recent developments outside of the hotel sector,” comments Mr. Atakawee Choosang, Head of Capital Markets – CBRE Hotels in Thailand.

CBRE believes that Bangkok will continue to be one of the top tourist destinations in the world with new luxury hotel openings, improving infrastructure, and attractions that appeal to a wide range of tourists.

Strong growth from key markets compensate for slight dip in Chinese tourists | News by The Thaiger

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Koh Samui

Raid on 18 foreign-owned Koh Samui hotels, owners arrested

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Raid on 18 foreign-owned Koh Samui hotels, owners arrested | The Thaiger

FILE PHOTO

Army, police and municipal officials have raided 18 hotels on Koh Samui claiming that they are illegally owned by foreigners. The hotels in questions are on a mountainside on the Gulf island, the second largest island in Thailand.

Officials carried out the search and raids on Chaweng Noi Mountain in Moo 6 village in Tambon Bophut  and found that 18 luxury mansions had been modified as hotels to cater to foreign tourists.

None of the 18 hotels were licensed and all are co-owned by businessmen from several countries, according to officials, including the UK, Germany, France, Russia, Belgium, Israel and Austria. Officials said the foreigners used Thais as nominees by stating their names as co-owners.

The inspection was carried out following complaints from licensed hotels that they had seen a large decrease in patrons after the new hotels began operating. Hoteliers said the new hotels had an unfair advantage because they were not paying the same taxes, or operating under the sale rules, as the licensed hotels.

Officials found the 18 hotels had proper land deeds but had not been registered as hotels.

Bophut police station took legal action against foreign executives of the four companies that were operating four of the 18 hotels. They have been charged with operating without a hotel license and working in a business – food and beverage – that is reserved for Thais.

Police said they will summon executives of the remaining 14 hotels to face charges. The executives are all living abroad.

SOURCE: The Nation

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