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Phuket Valentine’s Day

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Valentine’s Day | The Thaiger

History is unclear on whether any of The Beatles had journeyed to Phuket before they wrote their 1964 smash hit with its charmingly quaint lyrics…”Money Can’t Buy Me Love.”

Clearly the lyricist Paul McCartney had never had the pleasure of a wander down Soi Bangla around midnight on almost any evening. Had he done so, he would have certainly witnessed plenty of filthy lucre being exchanged for love…or something that looks suspiciously like it, at all sorts of local entertainment venues. In fairness John Lennon did eventually come to his senses a few years later when he was quoted as saying, “Anyone who says that money can’t buy me love isn’t shopping in the right places.”

Possibly there’s some confusion between “love” and its close semantic and linguistic bedfellow “lust” going on here in Phuket. But after a few of the local beers…it’s a case of: “Will you stop nit picking? Look she just finds me irresistibly attractive. OK?”

Traditionally Valentine’s Day honors a series of “Valentines” who were in fact Christian martyrs. One Valentine in particular was secretly performing marriages at a time when the Roman Emperor Claudius II had enforced a law in which all young men were to remain single so that Claudius could improve the quality and size of his army. So, what
a romantic sort of guy he was…forget l’amour, let’s get on with the slaughter.

There’s little doubt that “The Pearl of the Andaman” holds abundant opportunities for Saint Valentine’s romance, whether on a short term, financial basis, or featuring the more stable traditional manifestation of the phenomenon.

While acolytes of the former may flock to Bangla and its fleshpots, the traditionalists can avail themselves of wondrous beachside dinners, bathed in Prosecco and moon glow, in which to plight their devotions, if they can afford the tab that is. Local resorts and upmarket eateries are always quick to jump aboard any marketing bandwagon whenever one happens to trundle along, and there are few better occasions for a male to lose his normal financial sanity than in pursuit of l’amour.

St Valentine’s is big business in Phuket, no matter how long the commitment is going to last.

Many a male has been so caught up in the romance of Phuket’s tropical island splendor, as to throw all caution to the monsoon winds and actually pop the question at a beach-side dinner on February 14. Beware, Phuket is one place where romance is certainly in the air, as well as the beer, and the Prosecco.

In all this, perhaps Dorothy Parker’s wise observation is a pertinent last thought. Acerbic as ever, she remarked that the difference between sex for love and sex for money is that sex for love costs you a hell of a lot more!

Happy Valentine’s.

Cockroach Love

The Bronx zoo is encouraging New Yorkers to pay for the privilege of naming their hissing Madagascar cockroaches after a loved one this Valentine’s Day.

Nothing says “I love you” like giving your partner – or an ex – the honor of having a cockroach named after them. Ten dollars is the fee and for US$25 you can name a couple.

Buyers get a certificate and also a replica chocolate cockroach to sweeten the deal.

Valentine’s ban

The Uzbekistan government has snubbed Valentine’s Day this year. All romance-themed celebrations are unofficially banned.

Concerts and other activities laced with love have been scrapped across the central Asian country.

Instead of the annual splurge on heart-shaped treats and gifting flowers, Uzbeks who “have to” celebrate Valentine’s Day are being encouraged to do so quietly and with minimal fuss and fun.

Readings of 16th century poems of their compatriots is one saucy show of affection being encouraged by authorities.

The country has a mottled history with Valentine’s Day. One Uzbek newspaper, Turkiston, last year described the holiday as having “evil goals bent on putting an end to national values”.

Uzbekistan is a predominantly Muslim country, but also has a large Christian following.

Adult only’ dinner

In unrelated zoological news this Valentine’s Day, Pittsburgh Zoo is offering an “adult only” candle-lit dinner featuring a special presentation about animal mating rituals.

For US$75 per person, guests can scoff on gourmet nibbles, including Goat cheese stuffed strawberries and Salmon Wellington, while listening to the zoo curator talk about the intimate secrets of exotic animal mating.

But don’t think you still have time to join in. You don’t. It’s sold out.

Secret love

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different Saints named Valentine, but the true origins of Valentine’s Day remain unclear.

One theory is that the tradition of sending love messages on February 14 began when a man named Valentine wrote love letters to his mistress from his prison cell while awaiting execution for adultery.

But the most popular explanation is that St Valentine’s Day is named after a Roman priest who was sentenced to death for secretly marrying Roman soldiers in defiance of a decree by Emperor Claudius II that soldiers must remain single.

The unpopular Claudius was having trouble recruiting soldiers for his armies because the men were loathe to leave their wives and lovers.

Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements, but the priest, named Valentine, continued performing marriages in darkened rooms, whispering the words while listening carefully for approaching soldiers.

He was caught and sentenced to death, but as he awaited his fate, many of the couples he had married came to visit him and brought flowers and notes of support.

One of those visitors was the daughter of a prison guard, and she would sit and talk to him for hours to keep his spirits up. On the day he died, Valentine wrote her a farewell note and signed it “From your Valentine“.

The priest was beheaded on February 14, 269 AD, and in 496AD, Pope Gelasius proclaimed February 14 St Valentine’s Day in his honor.

In the US, Valentine’s Day is also remembered for the Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1925.

Mob boss Al Capone eliminated seven gangsters from rival George “Bugsy” Malone’s gang when he sent gunmen dressed in police uniforms to a bootlegger’s warehouse in Chicago.

The “police” lined the seven gangsters up against a wall and opened fire on them with machine guns.

No one was ever charged with the killings.

— Baz Daniel & Fraser Morton

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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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Property

Guaranteed rental returns – Are they real?

The Thaiger

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Guaranteed rental returns – Are they real? | The Thaiger

If you’re looking to invest in overseas property, search the market and it’s not unusual to find condos for sale with guaranteed rental returns of 40%, and some even higher. Yes, it DOES seems too good to be true, but the offers are out there and the packages often come with free legal fees and other such benefits. Clearly, before diving in, you need to seek some expert and professional advice.

So, what is the debate about? And what questions should you ask prior to investing?

Guaranteed rental returns are obviously enticing for investors and purchasers alike, with standard net returns usually being advertised below the 10% mark.

In the opinion of many, this is not a cheap marketing trick. Yes, it does have ‘marketing power’ and it might just be the additional financial package that helps developers and agents clinch the deal. But for the investors, they genuinely are guaranteed a minimum return on their investment. Surely that’s positive. It eases the concerns of investors and keeps the market buoyant. And why wouldn’t buyers prefer to go with the property that guarantees this return, over the property that does not?

Other experts are not so sure. While acknowledging that a rental guarantee clearly offers agents and developers an advantage in marketing and selling, there are voices within the industry that urge caution. There’s a suspicion that developments that come with a guarantee may be overpriced and that the developers may have factored the cost of the guarantee into the actual price of the property that is being offered.

Those that hold this negative opinion about guarantees suggest that a better strategy for any investor might be to really understand the market in which the property is being offered, aim to get the lowest price possible, do the deal and then organise the letting independently.

Other cautious voices wonder if investors aren’t being tantalised with a vision of unrealistic long-term returns. The question that is asked is what happens when the guaranteed period ends? It’s not unknown for the guaranteed period to expire, and for the investor to suddenly realise that the true rental value of the property is much lower than they believed. Rental incomes suddenly drop, and they suddenly realise that they have overpaid into the wrong investment.

But still, many deny that developers overprice properties when offering guarantees. And no matter what, it’s clear that a rental guarantee is important for certain investors who need the security that it offers. And genuinely, it appears that there are some good guarantees out there on the market. So what to do?

The trick is to apply common sense and due diligence to the situation and examine the legal, commercial and financial strength of the guarantee and the market in which it is being offered. Here are some questions worth considering:

Legally, how is the guarantee structured?

Is it underwritten with a contract in which legal recourse is an option, should you not receive the income that is guaranteed? This is clearly important.

Commercially, is the guaranteed rental figure in-line with the rental market in which the property is situated? Basically, are the developers offering you more rental income than is actually achievable in the current market? If they are offering you more, then once the guaranteed period expires, you’ll probably see your returns on investment drop.

Financially, how does the guarantee work?

Is the guaranteed return dependent upon the commercial success of the project?

Some guarantees are based on projected annual revenues and are subject to these revenues being achieved. In other words, if the expected revenues aren’t achieved, the full guaranteed amounts might not be paid to the purchaser.

In addition to this, some guarantees may also come with the proviso that the amount being ‘guaranteed’ is ‘subject to the competency of’ the management of the complex. This may seem vague, but it’s possible that if the expected revenues aren’t achieved, then the blame for this failure is going to be put solely on the management company.

The vagueness of such a ‘competency’ proviso might also be used to cover all manner of issues. For example, is it possible that forecasted rental revenues might fail to materialise, not because of the bad management of a complex, but because the original forecasts were set too high? It might be easy to blame all manner of poor results on the incompetence of how an apartment complex is managed and to do this with no liability.

With this in mind, once again, it’s very important to look at the rental market in which the property is located, and then ask: are the projected annual revenues realistic in the current market? And of course, you will have to do some research on the developers.

Do the developers have a track record of successfully managing properties, renting them out and ensuring that incomes are generated?

If the answer to this is ‘no’, how then will they be able to generate the income that they are guaranteeing? This may be a sign that the property price has been ‘artificially’ increased to cover any foreseen shortfall in future income.

All-in-all, there’s a lot to consider. Guaranteed rental returns do offer investors a level of security, and it is natural for people to feel compelled to buy into them, and yes, there are some good offers on the market. But it’s worth remembering that in the right location, you’ll always be able to rent out a property.

As we always recommend at The Thaiger, do your homework!

To find thousands of available rental properties in Thailand, click HERE.

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Business

500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies

Greeley Pulitzer

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies | The Thaiger

Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.

Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.

A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.

Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.

“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.

The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.

The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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