PHUKET: For travellers looking for an active holiday, both Phuket and Krabi offer many solutions, such as snorkeling trips, scuba diving or kayaking, but many travellers have yet to try an experience that is rapidly gaining in popularity – rock climbing!
Krabi and Phang Nga provinces are literally packed with dramatic limestone formations. In the last ten years, spots like Railay Beach and Tonsai Beach have attracted thousands of climbers from all over the world, making this corner of Thailand a climbing Mecca in Southeast Asia. Yet the entire region still holds almost limitless potential for veteran climbers looking for a new challenge in uncharted territory.
Rock climbing is one of those activities considered “dangerous” by the majority of international tour operators, therefore, due to the limited availability of insurance, it’s almost impossible to buy a climbing package from overseas or book a climbing course for beginners through a tour operator.
Luckily, in Tonsai and Railay there are now many climbing schools offering professional services to individuals or groups and it’s remarkable to see how many people are now approaching this amazing activity for the first time.
I have been climbing for many years, and I’ve had the chance to climb in many different countries in Europe and Asia. However, the magical atmosphere that Railay provides compels me to come back whenever I can.
What I love about rock climbing is that it’s generally suitable for everybody and the range of emotions that climbers experience are always the same – elation and satisfaction. But be very careful, it’s heavily addictive. The kick of adrenaline an experienced climber gets from climbing a hard route is a huge part of the attraction of rock climbing, but beginners can, and should, get the same kick on a much easier climb. This adrenaline boost produces a phenomena that keeps climbers always pushing forward and always looking for kicks. Until the rock kicks you out!
“Move your right feet up on the right, grab that jug with your left hand, come on you can do it!”
“No, I can’t…
“Yes, come on!
“No, I’m scared.
“Come on mate.
This is what a typical rock climbing conversation sounds like when an instructor is leading a climbing course and encouraging a novice. Every time I climb and see those beginners having such a good time, it reminds me of the old days when I started climbing, and makes me regret that I didn’t start earlier.
Now for a bit of technical detail. Climbing routes are classified by difficulty using a grading system that is recognized worldwide. The French scale is indeed the most common one and the majority of climbing guide books refer to this system.
The scale starts with the 5 grade and proceeds following a system of letters and plus signs for example: 5a, 5a+, 5b, 5b+, 5c, 5c+, 6a, 6a+ and so on. The hardest route ever climbed has a grade of 9b+ and it was realized by Adam Ondra, an extremely talented 18-year-old from the Czech Republic.
Just about anybody is able to climb the 5 graded routes. In fact, a few years ago I went out climbing with my father who, at the age of 60, climbed his first 5c. Most regular climbers can usually climb up to 6c+, after that the world of 7s starts. From here on, climbers require excellent fitness, physical and mental strength and specific climbing techniques.
Railay is the perfect spot for beginners looking to try out their climbing legs (and hands). Many sectors have plenty of routes from 5 to 7 which allow everybody to have a challenging and fun time. On Railay West, there is a crag called Thaiwand Wall, where there are some amazing climbing routes overlooking the entire bay – which I guarantee will deliver amazing views.
Being perched dozens of meters above the sea, overlooking a spectacular view, really allows you to get into better contact with your inner thoughts – to discover yourself and understand your fears. Interacting with nature as you rise slowly, hand over hand, your mind feels lighter than ever. The energy flows through your veins, and after a day of climbing, a magic sensation stays all over your body.
Rock climbing is indeed an activity that requires some dedication in order to get better results, however, anybody can try it and have an amazing experience.
The best way to reach Railay beach is to take a long tail boat from Ao Nang. The ticket costs 100 baht each way and boats operate from sunrise to sunset. In both Railay and Tonsai there are plenty of different hotels starting from 500 baht up. There are also scores of locally run restaurants that serve up cheap and tasty meals, perfect for replacing all that energy you used up during your climb.
For more information about participating in a rock climbing experience that will definitely change your life, you can type the magic words “Climbing in Phuket” into your search engine or message me through my personal blog at phuketclimbing.blogspot.com.
— Ricardo Mereu
‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people
On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.
From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.
The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.
One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.
There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.
This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.
This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.
21% of Thai teenagers are gambling
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
Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare
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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