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Thai Life

Top Ten Things to see in Phuket, on a budget

Donna Toon

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PHOTO: The Trick Eye Museum in Phuket Town
We all can’t afford to stay in the lap of luxury in five star properties, and spend our Sunday’s at extravagant brunches costing more than 4000 ++ baht per person. Good luck to those who can! In Phuket you can have equally as good experiences that either cost you nothing or not much more. We are in Thailand after all!
Here is, in no particular order, our Top Ten Things to see in Phuket on a budget on the island of Phuket….

1. Simon Cabaret/Simon Star/Aphrodite

Nothing like a big lady boy show. The ones in Phuket are family-friendly, world-standard presentations with astonishing costumes, sets and, mostly, appalling dancing – there’s only so much you can do with a metre high headpiece and gaffer tape holding all your ‘bits’ in place. If you haven’t been you MUST. Hard to not to enjoy yourself. Does it rival the big shows in Las Vegas? No. Is it worth the 1000 baht and a few hours on a humid night? Definitely.

At the end of the show you will get the opportunity to have your photo taken with the performers. Although they don’t tell you before, you will be expected to pay for the pleasure. 100-200 baht is about the going rate. The three shows are in different parts of the island – the most famous Simon Cabaret in Patong which has been going for an astonishing 27 years without missing a beat.

OK, it’s not ‘cheap cheap’ but it’s worth every baht!

2. Trick Eye Museum

Right in the heart of Phuket Town and deserves your time. Bring a camera. You’ll walk around various elaborate large interactive art and find you can pop yourself into the scene in a very clever way. Tickets start at 500 baht and you can spend an easy two hours or so. There’s some car parking next door to the old Pearl Hotel otherwise go by taxi, plenty around that part of town. Popular with local and international schools for day trips too.

3. Massage

Almost anywhere, anytime. For less than 500 baht you’re going to get to relax and indulge in one of Thailand’s unique pleasures. In Patong you will hardly walk 10 metres without hearing the cry ‘massage!?’ But the better massages are out of tourist town, and usually much cheaper. Leaving out the more infamous massage available in less-reputable venues, there is usually a selection of different massages you can enjoy. If the sweet little Thai lady asks if you want it gentle or hard, be warned if you go for the ‘hard’ option you’ll be screaming at times! The Thai massage can be quite firm and a challenge for the uninitiated, and those ‘sweet’ 5 foot Thai ladies will wind you up in knots, despite their petite stance. Start tame and go for a 1 hour foot massage. Read up more about massage and spa locations around Phuket HERE.

4. Upside Down House

Located on the ByPass Road in Samkong this is a curious wander around a house that’s, well, upside down. Too many photos would spoil the fun but you’ll fill an hour and snap off plenty of selfies in this attraction that will make you see the world from a whole different angle. Tickets for adults are 350 baht and children 190 baht.

5. Any Temples

Of course you should visit a temple, or ‘Wat’. Wat Chalong is largest complex of temples on the island. Buddhist temples have their own conventions and rules to read up about before you visit so you’ll get the most out of your visit. Some of the temples have become distinctly commercial in recent years so best to try and find the ones that will give you the most authentic experience. Free unless you choose to make a donation. THIS article about ‘Things NOT to do’ in Thailand will provide a bit of guidance for first time temple visitors.

6. Coral Island

So you’ve already come to a tropical island in Thailand. But many enjoy exploring the 30 or so other islands around Phuket. Some are a LONG way, some will have you travelling in a van for a a few hours before you even get on a boat. Others are really close, like Coral Island, just off the coast of Chalong. There are plenty of organised tours to Coral island and, depending on your tour and the beach you end up on, you’ll have a great day or an awful day battling crowds you probably thought you’d be getting away from. Coral Island has become really popular in the past five years so be prepared your tropical island getaway experience with a few others as well. We don’t recommend any particular tour company but here’s a start for you HERE… (in the website it says Coral Island is ’10 kilometres south of Phuket’. It’s not. It’s only a kilometre or so of the shore from Chalong.)

7. Khao Rang

A mid-island diversion from the history of Phuket Town and shopping at Central Festival, Khao Rang (also known as Rang Hill) is a popular viewpoint hangout for locals. It is located on the north side of Phuket Town and has stunning views over island. There are a number of restaurants and bars located on the hill offering local dishes and their most famous specialty is ice coffees. The most popular at Khao Rang Breeze Restaurant and Tunk Ka expect to pay slightly above local prices for food and beverages. They call it a hill, but it’s actually only 150 metres high which is not so tall at all, however the views are amazing from the viewpoint even at the low height and the landscaped gardens are beautiful under foot. Be careful of the monkeys up there who come out around sunset to forage for food… and iPhones!

8. Spend the Day at the Beach

It’s one of the highlights of coming to Phuket, so go and get some sand between your toes. Stunning beaches feature throughout Phuket, and at just 100 baht for a sunbed including the beach crew who sweep away your sand from your chair, it’s a steal. The Andaman Sea has crystal clear water during high season (December through May) however during the green season (June through November) the ocean is rough and it is not recommended to swim on the West Coast. With restrictions being enforced with the number of chairs allowed on the beach, and in certain zones, it can be fun trying to secure one later in the day. Layan, Kamala, Surin and Patong Beaches are all zoned for chairs. Also note that at Patong Beach there are dedicated smoking zones too so if you are going to indulge you must do it in the smoking zones otherwise large fines could be imposed.

9. Catch the Latest Movie at the Cinema

Especially great on a wet day in Phuket or if you need to take a load off from all the shopping at Central Festival or Jungceylon going to the cinema is well priced and features all the latest movies, including in English or with English sub-titles. Starting at just 140 baht a ticket (on selected days) for a standard seat through to 350 baht for a lazy boy style chair, right up to 900 baht for first class (totally worth the money) it’s a cheap way to spend a couple of hours. First Class in Phuket is comparable to a standard ticket in most Western countries, the doors open one hour before and you can have refreshments and a light snack before heading in, included in the price. Waiters bring in “complimentary popcorn, soft drinks” as well as a blanket for your viewing pleasure and the lazy boy seats go almost flat so you can enjoy the movie in comfort. Thailand is very traditional, and respectful to the Royal Family, so before any movie they play the King’s Anthem. All patrons stop munching, stand up and pay their respects.

10. Bang Wad Dam

Located in the middle of the island, South to North and East to West, the Bang Wad Dam in Kathu is a water reservoir that services much of Phuket. It has a 6km circle road around it and is shaded from the sun by lush trees and fauna. It is incredibly popular with the locals and expats who are getting in their daily exercise. There is minimal traffic and, if you don’t mind the odd snake and creepy crawly, a perfect spot to to pound the pavements or ride your bike or motorbike. If your up early on a Sunday morning there are regular runs/walks as well as charity events to participate in. It is also recommended to run/walk all in the same direction – if you don’t know which way you soon will! Buy a fresh coconut or cold drink on your way round and support the local community.

 

- Donna Toon

Originally from New Zealand, Donna Toon has been living in Thailand for the last 9 years with her husband Scot and their two boys Jackson and Oliver. After graduating with a Degree in Hospitality Management, Donna has travelled the world with a desire to develop her craft. A recent move from hospitality has seen Donna immerse herself into the media and radio industry, consulting for a number of media companies.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. nazanin

    March 13, 2018 at 2:10 am

    I’m crazy about Thai massage and calm after that

  2. thaitor

    March 13, 2018 at 2:20 am

    I dare to say that Phuket is one of the most beautiful islands that I have seen to this day

  3. reddy

    April 22, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    In fact: Coral Island (Ko He) is 10 km south of Chalong Bay or 6 km south of Rawai Beach.

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Property

Three new luxury show suites open at flagship Twin Palms Residences

The Thaiger

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MONTAZURE ON STUNNING KAMALA BEACH

MontAzure, the upscale mixed-use residential resort community set on 454 rai (178 acres or 72 hectares) of mountainside to beachfront land in Kamala, has launched 3 new on-site beachfront show suites at the award-winning beach condominium development, Twinpalms Residences MontAzure.

Considered by real estate experts to be one of the most compelling lifestyle investment opportunities on Phuket, the development will be managed and operated by Twinpalms Group. Investors and visitors will be able to tour and experience all three of the units to really get a feel for the unique luxury island lifestyle on offer.

“Recent luxury investment trends on Phuket have seen a move away from private villas toward upscale condos, especially penthouse units with outdoor facilities. Buyers appreciate the opportunity to own these luxury properties on a freehold basis,” says MontAzure Executive Director Setthaphol Boottho.

“Properties managed by reputable brands also attract savvy investors, as the condos can be rented out to international visitors and therefore generate income when owners are not using them,” he added.

Andreas Savvides of Haveli Design, whose pedigree includes several landmark residential developments in Bangkok including 185 Rajadamri and The River, designed the interiors for two of the new show units at Twinpalms Residences MontAzure, one of which is a stunning penthouse with a rooftop pool and ocean view sun deck.

As the first phase of the expansive MontAzure master-planned mixed-use development, the luxury beachfront condominiums have already attracted lifestyle-driven investors looking for a combination of hotel-based yields and usage time, along with strong capital appreciation due to the rare beachfront location. Owners enjoy privacy and world-class facilities without having to employ their own staff as they would at a private villa.

The development is sensitively designed as a series of low-rise clusters orchestrated around generous communal swimming pools with intimate views of the beautifully landscaped grounds. One-bedroom units are sized from 70 to 250sqm while the two-bedroom units range from 154 to 400sqm. The developers also recently added super penthouses measuring an impressive 799sqm and offering stunning views of Phuket’s idyllic sunset coast. Prices for entry-level investment units start from 15.5 Million baht.

Part of the development’s beachfront zone, Twinpalms Residences MontAzure is just a short stroll along the beach from HQ Beach Lounge, which has become an island favourite for its chic, contemporary oceanfront dining and entertainment. The sea view restaurant at HQ serves delicious light fare, signature cocktails, fine wines and an eclectic music selection to match the casual surroundings. 

Right next door to HQ Beach Lounge, lifestyle aficionados can enjoy causal fine dining, world class drinks and entertainment at Café Del Mar, Phuket’s hippest waterfront venue with 40 metres of beach frontage and chic tropical design. A rolling schedule of events includes weekly pool parties, international guest DJs, and tempting food and drinks promotions to attract a stylish global clientele.

Enhancing the unique choice of word-class beachfront facilities, MontAzure’s anchor hotel, InterContinental Phuket Resort, will open this year to offer visitors and residents of Kamala even more options for dining and entertainment, complementing the breathtaking sea views and tropical surroundings.

“Twinpalms Residences MontAzure offers buyers a rare opportunity to own a property within an integrated beachfront resort and residential community just steps from the pristine sands at Kamala beach and within walking distance of the island’s most popular beachfront venues,” says Henri Young, Director of Marketing at MontAzure.

To mark the launch of the new show suites and MontAzure is offering buyers a guaranteed return on investment for 3 years on selected units, as well as free furniture packages valued up to 2 Million baht. 

For more information or to make an appointment to view the show units call +66 93 624 8800 or email [email protected]

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Opinion

Wai Khru – setting a bad example for the future. Thailand’s demand for respect from its young

The Thaiger

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Hazing (US English), initiation ceremonies (British English), bastardisation (Australian English), ragging (South Asia), or deposition, refers to the practice of rituals, challenges, and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group including a new fraternity, sorority, team or club.

In Thailand, hazing is not only rife, it’s seen as a rite of passage for young Thais as part of their cultural inculcation into the subservience they’re expected to display elders or people with more money or higher positions than them. What’s mistaken for ‘respect’ is actually a cultural party trick where children and young adults are ‘trained’ to be deferential from an early age.

In recent years there have a been a few high-profile deaths of army trainees, in the care of their Academy leaders, but allegedly subjected to initiations and bastardisation that is just ‘par for the course’ for the education of young Thais.

In a response to the recent death of Phakhapong Tanyakan at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School on October 17 last year, the Thai Deputy PM and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan claimed that he “was not beaten to death, but just too weak to withstand tough training.”

He went further saying “I was once beaten more than I could take and I fainted too. I didn’t die. For this, before the school accepts kids for entry, they must give them a proper physical check-up.”

When you get you get such official, public, responses from the top you can see how this hazing culture continues to thrive in the, otherwise, Land of Smiles.

We spoke to three foreign teachers in Thailand, all speaking on condition of anonymity, about the culture of hazing in their schools and the benign version of that in primary schools, ‘wai khru’.

“Hazing is seen in many different types of social groups, including gangs, sports teams, schools, military units, fraternities and sororities. The initiation rites can range from relatively benign pranks and was khru, to protracted patterns of behavior that rise to the level of abuse or criminal misconduct.”

For the families of hazing victims these ceremonies can be catastrophic, as in the tragic case of Phakhapong Tanyakan.

A 19-year-old armed forces cadet, previously subjected to harsh physical discipline, suddenly died a day after returning to school from a break. His parents were told he suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest but became suspicious of possible foul play after a detailed autopsy report never came. – Khaosod English

But he’s not the only one. Hazing and cruel or unusual initiations are conducted every day around the Kingdom but with a growing concern about the practices, both from the young students themselves and concerned older Thais, who realise the dangers of ‘persuading’ youngsters to respect elders needs examination in a modern 21st century Thailand.

We spoke to a respected senior Thai businessperson, again on the condition of anonymity, who said he had seen too much hazing going on during his time at school and then whilst training in the military.

“I was a victim of this type of bullying. I was told to ‘be a man’ and that all Thai men have to go through this. I think it is degrading and breaks human spirits. It teaches fear of those we are meant to respect. It has to change.”

It all starts when young Thais are subjected to the Wai Khru or ‘Teacher Wai’ where students are expected to prostrate themselves in front of their teachers in a show of respect. But a broad spectrum of foreign teachers not only feel uncomfortable with this faux-deference, some of them go out of their way to be away for that day or, sometimes, even speak out about their concern with this tradition.

“I made the mistake of speaking out about the Wai Khru in our school. I just found it demeaning for the poor students who had to rehearse all week for this totally meaningless show of respect. I didn’t feel respected, I felt sick. I ended up being ostracised and had to leave that school.”

Whilst many Thais continue to wonder why westerners might find all this kowtowing and prostrating could cause concern, you just need to examine the deaths in the Army preparatory schools as the end result of ‘demanding’ obedience and deference to elders. In western culture, I have learned, respect is something that is earned, not demanded.

“Hazing is undignified, humiliating and cruel… not my words, but the words of students who are made go through this horrible experience. It’s meant to be a sign of showing respect to your seniors but it’s nothing more than a shameful indulgence at the expense of the students,” said a long-term foreign teacher.

“Making students crawl around on the ground acting like animals in front of their peers, does nothing for either senior or freshie students. I have stopped attending Wai Khru day as I find it terribly uncomfortable for myself and for the students. You can see the look in their eyes as they approach you and are ordered to bow before the teacher. Teachers, like everyone else, should learn how to earn the respect of their students.”

A young female foreign teacher first thought that the Wai Khru was ‘cute’ but has changed her tune over the years.

“Wai khru was the highlight of my first year teaching in Thailand. I was, and still am, extremely humbled and deeply touched by this beautiful tradition intended to recognise a teachers’ role in children’s life and to give said children the opportunity to express their gratitude to their teachers.

“But throughout the years I have started to look at this event with a more critical eye and I wish it weren’t as rehearsed and staged as it unfortunately is. At our school, rehearsals for Wai Kru start a week prior to the event. During this week, children are drilled incessantly until they have mastered the walk, the bow and the wai leading up to the offering of the flowers that they are eager to free their sweaty little palms of.”

Wai Khru continues to be practiced in all Thai schools as a long standing tradition and show of respect for teachers.

“Although I understand and commend the wonderful intentions behind such practices, I feel that much like other sorts of drilling that these students endure, this sadly takes away from the true purpose of it all. For want of a picture perfect event, meaning is lost and a demonstration of gratitude is transformed into a dreaded labour,” she said.

An investigation into the death of Army cadet Phakhapong Tanyakan, by military investigators, found no wrongdoing by the Preparatory School. The parents have consistently called for a probe into their son’s death and are still pursuing legal action.

PHOTO: Army cadet Phakhapong Tanyakan, who died at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School on October 17 last year.

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Thai Life

Law and Order: Tangled Thai defamation laws

Robert Virasin

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PHOTO: Rights defender Andy Hall goes on trial for criminal defamation & computer crimes

Living in the Land of Smiles you need to mind your Ps & Qs, as an expat, tourist, company or just about anyone actually. Thai defamation laws can be used to silence people, even in the most innocuous situations. It’s different from the West and, living here, you need to have a basic understanding of the differences in the way deflation and slander works in Thai law. As a media publication it can be especially onerous preventing us from publishing any number of stories that we would like to, button’t dare . Editor

Court cases over the past three years – the most notable the case against British national Andy Hall, Academic Dr Wyn Ellis, and local blogger Alan Morrison with his PhuketWan, reflect a peculiar aspect of the Thai criminal system. Unlike criminal court systems in most Western countries, a private person in Thailand can initiate criminal prosecution if they believe they are a victim of a crime.

In Thailand, people are able to access the criminal justice system through two channels. The most common way is for a private citizen to file a complaint with the police. The police gather evidence and submit the case to the public prosecutor. The public prosecutor determines whether to file formal charges after reviewing the evidence.

The second method is a private criminal prosecution. Under this method, crime victims have the right to file a case against the accused perpetrator. In cases where the victim is seriously injured or dead, the spouse or heirs can file the lawsuit. Generally, a private prosecution is faster, more focused and more efficient than a public prosecution because an attorney will assist in the investigation of the case to strengthen the victim’s charge.

Phuket Wan journalist Alan Morison and his Thai colleague Chutima Sidasathian outside Phuket Court

(Read about their case, in their own words, HERE.)

Private prosecution of criminal cases helps to overcome several problems with the current criminal justice system. Firstly, there are limits to the number of cases that a public prosecutor can handle. Private prosecutions alleviate the shortage of prosecutors within the public system.

Secondly, there are problems with undue influence which may make public prosecution of certain crimes or charges against certain individuals unlikely. Private prosecution of crimes allows those types of cases to move forward even if they become an embarrassment to high ranking officials or other powerful individuals.

And thirdly, some crimes are just not a priority for public prosecutors. Once a public prosecutor has charged someone with a crime, he cannot allow a perpetrator to plea bargain to lesser charges to settle the case. So the prosecutor may be reluctant to file certain charges because he/she is not willing to see the case through to the end. In these situations, an injured party can still move forward to seek punishment against their perpetrator.

However, the system of private prosecution also brings a host of problems. Allowing private criminal prosecution can alleviate the manpower shortage in the public prosecutor’s office, but it increases the burden on the court system. The processing of cases in Thai criminal courts can already take over a year.

There is also the problem with duplicate charges against the accused.

Andy Hall was acquitted of criminal defamation in a case filed by the attorney general’s office last year. However, he is now being tried on the same charges through the computer crimes act by a private company. The fact that a public prosecution has been initiated or completed does not prejudice a victim’s right to bring a criminal action on the basis of the same offence.

In addition, initiating a private prosecutorial action is generally limited to those who have the ability to fund private attorneys to file and prosecute their cases. Criminal legal prosecution can be very costly. There have been complaints that corporations and the wealthy have used private prosecution to silence critics. Criticising the wealthy and powerful can open up individuals to a costly legal action and possible imprisonment.

The private prosecution system is a tool. It can be used to bring about justice when government officials refuse to prosecute. However, it can also be used to intimidate to prevent disclosure of information or critical opinions. It is generally up to the courts to distinguish between justice and intimidation.

Additional reporting by Yutthachai Sangsirisap.

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