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Japan’s legendary cherry blossom is only 5 hours away

The Thaiger

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Japan’s legendary cherry blossom is only 5 hours away | The Thaiger

by Kaoru

Do you travel frequently between Thailand and North America and want to break your journey on the way? Or are you simply looking for somewhere to escape the scorching weather forecast for the next few months? 

Japan has become a very popular holiday destination among Thais with visitor numbers expected to reach one million a year. Many of them are excited to see snow in winter but March~April is a more pleasant time of year with spring flowers and festivals all over the country. Cherry blossoms are well known but the plum blossom season starts earlier in mid-February and the flowers last longer. 

While in Thailand I met so many expats, mainly farang, who had “been there, done that” all over Asia but not yet been to Japan. It seems these days, it’s the free-spending Thais who are travelling in numbers. Budget airline Nok Scoot started flying from Don Muang to Tokyo Narita last year and Thai Lion has now joined the competition. 

Those of you bound for North America can connect flights in Tokyo or Osaka, flying legacy carriers like JAL or ANA out of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK.) Actually, Tokyo has two international airports, Haneda (HND) which is close to the city and Narita (NRT.)

Japan's legendary cherry blossom is only 5 hours away | News by The Thaiger

Narita Airport is about 60 kilomentres from Tokyo but lies close to a temple town of the same name, only 10 minutes by train. Plum blossom festival is held there until March 3, Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated earlier than Thailand in April, and there will be two days of drum (taiko) performances on April 13 and 14.

However the largest plum blossom festival in the region is held between February 16 and  March 31 in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, about an hour and a half from NRT by coach.

To visit this event you might need a stopover of at least one night. The main venue is the Kairakuen Garden with 3,000 plum trees spread over 50 hectares.  On selected dates an outdoor tea ceremony will be held, and you may also like to taste local plum wine which is sweet and a lot milder than sake (Japanese rice wine.) 

“Plum Blossom Ambassadors,” ladies dressed in traditional costume (kimono) greet visitors at the gardens. Thailand is a photogenic country and so is Japan. I was in Chiang Mai until a few weeks ago, so with memories still fresh from the Flower Festival, I quickly approached of them for a photo shot. 

Then, a prominent feudal lord who ruled Mito reappeared from a few hundred years ago and also wanted to join the photo. Known as Mito Komon, his retired life is dramatised as a legendary figure who travels around the country disguised as a commoner, confronting villains and exposing corruption while helping the weak.

Even if you are familiar with Asia you will notice big differences as well as similarities when you come to Japan. “Will I be able to communicate and find my way around?” You might ask. Japan’s ranking in terms of English proficiency is in the same league as Thailand, only slightly ahead, according to one research by an international language education organisation. That sounds challenging to any foreign visitor but it shouldn’t put you off- If you enjoy life in Thailand you already know how to adapt to a different culture. 

* Special thanks to Mito Tourism and Convention Association for arranging my visit. Thai visitors please let them know beforehand that you are coming so that they can display their welcome banner. 

Japan's legendary cherry blossom is only 5 hours away | News by The Thaiger



Looking to jettison some items before jetsetting away or chartering a yacht? Look no further than Thaiger Classifieds where you can find and post items, work, property and more for free. Be sure to check out YonderTours for things to do in Thailand and tours across the country.

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

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Thai Life

Heavier traffic violation penalties being discussed by police

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Heavier traffic violation penalties being discussed by police | The Thaiger

Heavier penalties for drink-drivers and repeat offenders on Thai roads are under scission between traffic police and other agencies.

Maj-General Ekkarak Limsangkatt, a member of the committee reviewing of traffic-law enforcement, is calling for harsher punishments in line with the Japanese model that penalises both the drink-driver and any passenger who “abetted the wrongdoing.”

Ekkarak was speaking after a meeting at the Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok.

Among proposals discussed were the issuing of traffic tickets and harsher sentences for repeat offenders based on evidence gathered by Police Ticket Management over the last three years.

The PTM collates information on traffic offences and provides recommendations that enhance road safety measures.

Yesterday’s meeting was told that 11.7 million traffic tickets had been issued in 2018, a 39 per cent rise on the 8.6 million the year before.

One was a driver of a cargo truck who received no less than 144 tickets in a single year, for repeatedly speeding and failing to stay in the slow lane reserved for trucks. He was caught by traffic cameras.

A total of 1,507 drink-driving repeat offenders were arrested in the past four years, the meeting was told.

Ekkarak said the findings showed drivers were insufficiently afraid of the law and the consequences of breaking it. He said a legal amendment to the 1979 Land Traffic Act, which should soon be in effect, would introduce a points system to deter motorists from re-offending.

He said such a points system would not have worked in the past because all drivers’ licences were paper-based, meaning the police and Department of Land Transport could not cooperate to catch offenders.

“This new law will require the two agencies to link databases and online information so the driving-licence points system is implemented effectively and practically,” he said. (The Thaiger thought this had already been done!)

The meeting also heard a proposal that motorists with multiple tickets be allowed to pay them off in a lump sum for a discount, in order to clear the backlog of unpaid tickets.

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Entertainment

Sold over 2.6 million copies and it’s not even released. Map of the Soul, BTS.

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Sold over 2.6 million copies and it’s not even released. Map of the Soul, BTS. | The Thaiger
The hottest selling album. BTS. Map of the Soul - Persona'

The new album Map of the Soul: Persona has already sold 2,685,030 copies. That was in just four days up to March 17.

And it’s not even being released until April 12.

It also came to light that the same band had the second and third best selling albums in the world for 2018, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

The Greatest Showman’ Soundtrack Edges Out BTS, Lady Gaga for Best-Selling Album of 2018.

It would be an understatement to say South Korea’s BTS’s comeback Album is highly anticipated. The K-pop heavyweights just broke their own record for preorders with their upcoming album.

The yet-to-be-released EP currently sits at No. 1 on Amazon’s CD & Vinyl Best Sellers. At this stage there’s no music, no cover, no music videos. Just anticipation.

Earlier this month, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry revealed that BTS snagged the second and third spot on last year’s best-selling albums around the globe. Love Yourself: Tear and Love Yourself: Answer sold 2.3 million and 2.7 million units, respectively. Both albums hit the top of the Billboard 200 in 2018.

The April 13 comeback performance won’t happen in South Korea this time. It will happen on their biggest stage yet: Saturday Night Live.
Sold over 2.6 million copies and it's not even released. Map of the Soul, BTS. | News by The Thaiger

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Thai Life

Mummy makeovers rising trend in medical tourism market

The Thaiger

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Mummy makeovers rising trend in medical tourism market | The Thaiger

Mummy makeovers in Thailand? You may not have heard about this phenomenon but it’s a real thing in the medical tourism market.

Thanks to Thailand’s burgeoning medical tourism sector, more and more women are going under the knife to regain their pre-pregnancy stomach. Opting for lavish trips to South East Asia, female patients are travelling to Thailand for numerous treatments as part of this ‘mummy makeover’.

From tummy tucks and breast augmentation to liposuction, new mums will not stop at anything to achieve the ultimate look. Darren Lyons from MyMediTravel explains…

“Due to sagging and drooping post-pregnancy, many ladies are searching for top-quality surgeons alongside first-rate medical care in an exotic destination.”

“Thailand ticks all the medical tourism boxes with patients spending in excess of $10,000 on numerous procedures as part of this emerging mummy makeover craze. As a result, it gives women greater confidence and the ability to obtain their previous figure.”

There are various reasons why mummy makeovers in Thailand are proving popular. If exercise and diet have worked fighting the flab, excess skin can then be a major issue especially around the abdomen and breast area.

Together with stretch marks, pregnancy as well as labor can have a profound effect on a woman’s shape. Whether it’s a natural or Caesarean birth, many choose to undergo extensive procedures to obtain their pre-baby appearance. 

Delving a little deeper reveals interesting information about what mummy’s actually want. Mum’s certainly the word as surgeons claim women mainly opt for breast lifts with implants or just a simple breast lift to regain their former look before giving birth.

Tummy tucks (abdominoplasty), labiaplasty, buttock reshaping, varicose vein removal and transferal of fat from the abdomen to the face already feature on a growing list of mummy makeover demands. Mum’s are even requesting skin and laser peels to restore their previous complexion which is usually lost via hormonal changes during pregnancy.

But, before any procedure is undertaken, patients are normally advised to wait six months after giving birth.

One of the main reasons is that abdominal tissues are far too relaxed immediately after birth to achieve any long-lasting results. Mum’s are advised to wait for this specific time period so that tissues can return to as normal condition as possible, leading to better results. 

As with every invasive treatment, mummy makeovers carry certain issues such as being emotionally drained, whilst others may experience bruising and scarring. In addition, the removal of excess skin may lead to surgeons requiring to create a new belly button altogether.

Nevertheless, this has not stopped sharp interest from overseas patients. In fact, there has been growing demand among Australasian companies for mummy makeovers with more than a 120% increase in demand.

Mummy makeovers are here to stay and has not dampened the spirits of post-baby mums with cost-effective treatments, high standards of medical care and luxury facilities taking precedence. Despite A-list celebs flaunting their post-pregnancy figures, this yearning for the ideal pre-pregnancy body is a worthwhile makeover that many women are willing to pay for.

Mummy makeovers rising trend in medical tourism market | News by The Thaiger

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