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Phuket Lifestyle – SSI brings dive training online

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Phuket Lifestyle – SSI brings dive training online | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Scuba Schools International (SSI) is the second largest school-based diving certification agency in the world, and it’s growing at a rapid rate. It’s one of only two diving agencies that holds a global ISO rating, it has been training divers for over 40 years, and it’s the only diving agency that offers free online training. Operating in over 130 countries and with more than 2,400 SSI Dive Centers, SSI training materials are available in over 25 languages, including Thai.

Their commitment to service is more important to them than brand marketing. SSI have, as a result, seen an annual growth of over 35 per cent year-on-year across the region, and, since opening an Area Office in Thailand in 2002, they now employ 25 staff in five full service centres (two in Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia), and also have certification card printing facilities in 18 locations across eight countries with at least six more planned before the end of the year.

SSI Thailand has grown to 11 full-time staff, plus four experienced Dive Medical Technicians who emphasize and ensure diver safety. In fact, they regularly visit dive operations under the SSI umbrella and conduct assessments in all areas to ensure that safety standards are maintained.

High quality operators are critical to their success – they already work closely with 20 dive operators in Southern Thailand who have all had to comply rigorously with SSI standards in order to be part of the SSI network.

Sea Bees Diving, in Chalong, was the first dive operator in Thailand to be awarded the prestigious SSI Diamond Instructor Training Centre. With over 20 years experience in recreational diving, through day trips and liveaboard safaris, it’s also a training center for those who wish to become professional instructors. They have dive centers in Phuket, Khao Lak, Pak Meng and Koh Phi Phi.

Gary Hawkes, SSI International Training Director, states: “Sea Bees Diving reflects the quality of diving operations that SSI likes to partner with. They ensure SSI divers new and old are given the very best in service and standards available in the diving industry.”

“For Sea Bees Diving, SSI allows us to link our philosophy of diving together with an agency that has an established and reliable worldwide network and is a relationship that benefits all – whether they’re customers or dive professionals” says Holger Schwab, Managing Director of Sea Bees Diving.

Their free online training at is part of the social networking features of SSI’s global website and online divers network which has over half a million regular users.

Earlier this year they advertised their free online training to gap-year students across Europe using the slogan “Start online today… do your dives in Paradise”. Several thousand signed up, a few thousand of whom have already completed their courses in the region and they expect SSI dive centres in Phuket and across the west coast to benefit from this new influx during the coming high season.

But it’s not always about diving – supporting and funding locally based ecological projects directly is an equally important part of their operations. Assisting with illegal wildlife trading, beach and dive site cleanups on Koh Phi Phi, artificial dive sites in Koh Tao and environmental projects involving local schools throughout Thailand are just some of the projects SSI are actively involved with.

For more information on SSI dive services, or to sign up for dive classes, contact Sea Bees Diving T:+66 (0) 76 381 765 or

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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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Future of Bangkok’s iconic Scala cinema building uncertain after closing

Maya Taylor



Future of Bangkok’s iconic Scala cinema building uncertain after closing | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Supanut Arunoprayote/Wikipedia

Cinema lovers and theatre employees are mourning the closure of Bangkok’s legendary Scala cinema after 51 years in business. The theatre was the last one to remain independent in the capital, amid an expanding landscape of multiplex cinema chains. Khaosod English reports that many Scala lovers turned out to bid farewell to the theatre prior to its final screening on Sunday evening.

The Scala’s lease ran out at the end of June and Chulalongkorn University, which owns the building, has not made any statement on what its future plans may be. For Phiboon Phorchaiyarach, who has worked as an usher at the theatre since 1981, the Scala felt like a second home.

“I feel sad. I’ve worked here since I was 21. I’m impressed every day I come to work, it’s like my second home for me.”

He recalls the Scala’s popularity in the early days of his career, mourning the death of the independent movie theatre in favour of modern technology.

“The theatre was always crowded. People lined up all the way to the downstairs to get their tickets punched. Nowadays there are CDs and mobile phones where everyone can readily enjoy what they want to watch. Coming to theatre is not a special moment anymore.”

The Scala belonged to the Apex chain of theatres, which also owned the Lido and Siam theatres. The Lido is now a multiplex and mini-mall, while the Siam theatre burnt to the ground in 2010 as political protests rocked Bangkok.

Nuphu Chayalat, a 63 year old concession stand worker, worked at the Lido for 18 years before moving to the Scala. She recalls watching her favourite films at the Scala, adding that one of them, James Cameron’s Titanic, drew huge queues.

The Scala was named after Milan’s renowned Teatro alla Scala and its first screening upon opening its doors on New Year’s Eve in 1969 was The Undefeated. Over the weekend, those visiting for the last time, were treated to screenings of a number of classic movies, including 1966’s Blow Up and CinemaParadiso, whose soundtrack composer, Ennio Morricone, passed away yesterday.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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“Come and see” – Ministry invites diplomats to see coconut-picking monkeys in action

The Thaiger



“Come and see” – Ministry invites diplomats to see coconut-picking monkeys in action | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Atlas Obscura

The monkeys, and the Thai government, are hitting back at accusations macaque monkeys are being exploited, even abused, and forced to pick coconuts for commercial farmers. Some larger western retailers say they’re going to pull Thai coconut products off their shelves after being lobbied by animal rights activist that the coconuts were picked by abused and over-worked macaque monkeys.

The Thai Commerce Ministry, coconut farmers and the “monkey school” trainers are dismissing reports, and a dramatic video from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal), that the coconut-picking monkeys are maltreated. So they’re organising a tour for foreign diplomats and the media to see the monkeys at work and decide for themselves.

The permanent secretary for commerce, responding to the reports, says the monkey owners don’t abuse or exploit the animals which have been “humanely trained” to pick coconuts. He has instructed attaches in foreign Thai embassies to provide an explanation to retailers in other countries who have expressed concerns and even instigated boycotts.

“The ministry is ready to invite foreign diplomats to visit coconut plantations and see how the monkeys pick coconuts so they will realise this is not animal cruelty.”

The Bangkok Post reports that Pramual Pongthawaradej, a Demo­crat Party MP for Prachuap Khiri Khan province, the Chair of a House subcommittee tackling falling coconut prices, says they’ve approached owners of coconut milk plants to justify their practices to PETA. They’ve also asked the Department of Agriculture to provide details regarding the use of monkeys to pick coconuts.

A video from Touronthai shows an operating monkey-school posted 4 years ago…

But Somjai Saekow, an owner of a monkey school which trains macaques in Surat Thani, says… “the practice of capturing monkeys from the wild to pick coconuts ceased a long time ago”.

“Currently, monkeys are bred and raised before being trained. They are not forced to pick 1,000 coconuts from trees everyday, and they don’t work every day.

“Coconut-picking monkeys are mostly males and their abilities vary. The owner of the monkey receives 2 baht per a coconut picked.”

“Foreigners may not understand our livelihood. Also, humans are not built to climb up a coconut tree to pick fruit. They will be at risk, compared to monkeys which have the natural ability to do so.”

An owner of monkeys in Surat Thani, denied the claims of poor treatment or abuse of the coconut-picking monkeys.

“There is no cruelty. Actually, they are looked after well. They are fed well with rice, milk, and fruit three times a day. They are treated like family members.”

PETA claims pigtailed macaques in Thailand were treated like “coconut-picking machines”.

“Following PETA’s investigation, more than 15,000 stores will no longer purchase these brands’ products, with the majority also no longer buying any coconut products sourced from Thailand monkey labour.”

PETA said it had found 8 farms around Thailand where monkeys had been forced to pick coconuts for commercial export.

“Male monkeys are able to pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day.”

“Other coconut-growing regions, including Brazil, Colombia and Hawaii, harvest coconuts using humane methods such as tractor-mounted hydraulic elevators, willing human tree-climbers, rope or platform systems, or ladders, or they plant dwarf coconut trees.”

“PETA went further by calling on “decent people never to support the use of monkey labour by shunning coconut products from Thailand”.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thai PM expresses concern over “travel bubbles”

Jack Burton



Thai PM expresses concern over “travel bubbles” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Khaosod English

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed serious concerns about the resumption of international travel under the “travel bubble” scheme, stressing that Thailand must implement a vigorous arrivals screening protocol. The scheme is a proposed limited resumption of international travel to and from countries with a reciprocal agreement.

The Thai government has indicated it has taken a risk-averse stance with future Covid-19 legislation after largely getting the local outbreak under control in late May, early June. There hasn’t been a locally transmitted case in Thailand for 40 days.

Prayut discussed the proposed scheme with the media, saying Thailand must be prepared to allow the resumption of some international travel, with the other countries involved to be carefully considered, and adding that a full agreement must be reached, to ensure compliance with public health measures at the national level.

The PM says the government is concerned about the prospects of international aviation and the country’s external revenue.

During this long weekend, the Ministry of Finance expects up to 10 billion baht in cash flow from domestic economic activities. The PM says Thais are now making more domestic trips, with many hotels reporting a slow return of customers, thanks to the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions. But tourist locations, like Pattaya and Phuket, remain quiet due to their popularity with foreign visitors.

The PM stressed that all businesses “must remain strict with their precautionary measures in order to minimise the risk of a new outbreak of the virus”.

SOURCE: Press Release from Thai National News Bureau

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