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The Boracay renovation re-opens on October 26

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The Boracay renovation re-opens on October 26 | The Thaiger

Fewer hotels, no smoking or partying on the beaches. And construction works will still be going on. Welcome to the new Boracay.

The Philippines’ tourist magnet will reopen on October 26 after phase one of the island’s rehabilitation is completed. But work is on-going improving roads, constructing sewage systems and some beaches still remain in a ‘critical condition’. Some hotels won’t be re-opening until next year as they sort out their basic infrastructure and sewage, as per the demands of The Philippines government.

And it’s not as if they’re making new air fares cheap or the schedules easy from gateway cities Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Travel time can reach an unbearable 21 hours depending on which routes you take.

The Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte, surprised the island’s travel industry back in April when he described Boracay as a ‘cesspool’. He ordered an unprecedented shutdown closing the island to tourists for six months to clean up the sea and end the practice of pumping raw sewage into bays where tourists thought it was safe to swim.

ttrweekly.com reports that airlines stopped all flights to two airports, Caticlan and Kalibo, both on the neighouring Panday island that served visitors to Boracay. Kalibo, which is 68 km from the Caticlan ferry port has more international flights, while Caticlan airport, just a short distance to the ferry port, is served mainly by domestic flights from Manila, Cebu or Clark. Travellers take the ferry across the narrow 2 km straits between Panday and Boracay islands.

The first flight, courtesy of Cebu Pacific, will land at Caticlan airport October 26 from Manila, 315 km to the north.

One of Boracay’s beaches, appropriately named Bulabog, will still under a construction cloud as the new sewage works there are behind schedule. But most of the other beaches are back in business although with fewer hotels and hotel rooms.

Before you head off to Boracay note that the “Party at the Beach” tagline, adopted for the island’s advertising campaign, is no longer valid.  Beach parties are now banned. No drinking, no littering and take your cigarettes elsewhere please! Officials say they will strictly enforce the new beach code.

But we are told White Beach is ready and waiting for the first tourist footfall to get economic recovery for the 35,000 island residents back on track.

Government officials confirmed that around 90 resorts of the 296 properties registered would be compliant with new regulations on sewage treatment by October 26. It should give the island around 5,000 rooms down from the 15,000 that were in business last April.

Logistics are still critical for getting tourists to Boracay and the flights and connections are still unfriendly.

Caticlan (MPH) is the most convenient airport for the land and ferry transfer to Boracay but it requires a change of plane in Manila, Clark or Cebu.  The alternative is Kalibo, 65 km from the ferry port serving Boracay.

Out of Singapore, Cebu Pacific’s best fare is US$289 on Skyscanner compared with US$345 if you book direct on the airline’s website.

Out of Bangkok, AirAsia has the best deal to Boracay at US$279 roundtrip, but the trip is a long-haul trek of 13 hours and 50 minutes departing Bangkok at 2115 and arriving at 1200 on the following day at Caticlan. There’s a change of plane in Manila.

Read the rest of the story HERE.



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Enterprising young Cambodian impresses with multi-lingual skills

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Enterprising young Cambodian impresses with multi-lingual skills | The Thaiger

Young vendors become very resourceful at extracting money from tourists. All in the quest of making an honest living and bringing some money to their families. This young boy seems to have knowledge of at least seven languages, obviously representing the most popular languages spoken by the tourists he speaks to during his daily rounds.

Netizens are impressed by his talents but some are saying that the boy has to develop this skill in order to survive. A translation follows some of the many languages he is able to use in his daily work. Let’s hope he gets the opportunity to use his skills in a prosperous career in the future.

We’ll take five of whatever you’re selling!

A video clip showing a Khmer boy showing off his linguistic talent while trying to sell souvenirs to a tourist in Cambodia is going viral on social media.

Posted by The Nation Bangkok on Sunday, November 11, 2018

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SE Asia

Two Khmer Rouge leaders sentenced to life in prison

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Two Khmer Rouge leaders sentenced to life in prison | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Pnomh Penh Post

A UN-backed court has found two leaders of Cambodia’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime guilty of genocide. The judgement comes four decades after the regime which oversaw what became known as the Killing Fields, was overthrown.

Most of the victims of the 1975-79 regime died of starvation, torture, exhaustion or disease in labour camps. Others were simply bludgeoned to death during mass executions, many in areas just out of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

Up to 2.2 million people, a quarter of Cambodia’s population at the time, died during the four year rule of the Khmer Rouge.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), said Khmer Rouge “Brother Number Two”, 92 year old Nuon Chea and former President 87 year old Khieu Samphan were guilty of genocide against the Cham Muslim minority and Vietnamese people, and of crimes against humanity. The pair have been sentenced to life in prison.

They were already serving life sentences for 2014 convictions for crimes against humanity, in connection with the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh after the Khmer Rouge took power under their notorious leader Pol Pot in 1975.

There had been debate for years among legal experts at to whether the killings by the Khmer Rouge constituted genocide, as the vast majority of victims were fellow Cambodians.

The court found that during their rule, the Khmer Rouge’s policy was to target Cham and Vietnamese people to create “an atheistic and homogenous society without class divisions”, Judge Nil Nonn said in the verdict.

Hundreds of Vietnamese civilians and soldiers were also killed at the infamous S-21 interrogation centre, at a converted Phnom Penh school called Tuol Sleng, after being tortured to admit being spies. Tuol Sleng remains a gruesome tourist attraction and testament to the systematic torture and execution of those who ended up there during the brutal regime.

“The fate of all these prisoners was a foregone conclusion as they were all ultimately subject to execution.”

Both Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea appeared for the court session but Nuon Chea was excused after 40 minutes complaining of back pain. He continued to follow the proceedings from his cell.

Khieu Samphan, looking frail and gaunt. He stood in the dock with the help of prison guards when Nil Nonn read the verdict.

The court, a hybrid UN and Cambodian tribunal, was set up in 2005 to bring to justice “those most responsible” for the deaths under the Khmer Rouge. The court has convicted only three people.

Its first conviction was in 2010 when it sentenced Kaing Guek Eav, alias “Duch”, head of S-21 where as many as 14,000 people were tortured and executed, to life in prison.

Two other Khmer Rouge leaders, Ta Mok and Ieng Sary, were facing charges but died before the case was concluded. Pol Pot died in 1998.

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Rohingya refugee repatriation – FAIL

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Rohingya refugee repatriation – FAIL | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Straits Times

“The refugees are not willing to return now.”

This, from the Refugee Commissioner at the refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh as the first wave of Rohingya refugees refused to repatriate in a program that was meant to start on Thursday.

People, due to head back to their original homes in Rhakine State this week, disappeared in the sprawling refugee camps to avoid being sent back. Other joined a large demonstrations against the repatriation. They say they don’t trust the Myanmar government or the Military.

700.000+ Rohingya Muslims fled into Bangladesh from the Rhakine state in Myanmar’s western region in August last year after their villages were set alight and destroyed in a purge from the Myanmar Military and Buddhist vigilantes which has been condemned around the world. At the time NGOs, independent inspectors, aid agencies and the UN said the actions of the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) were akin to ‘genocide’ as the Rohingya suffered killings and rape of women and children in the orchestrate purge.

UN human rights officials are urging Bangladesh to halt the repatriation process, even as it was UN refugee agency workers helping to facilitate it.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali has told reporters in Dhaka that there is no question of forcible repatriation.

“We gave them shelter so why should we send them back forcibly?”

Some refugees on the repatriation lists – which authorities say were drawn up with assistance from the UNHCR – say they don’t want to go back for fear of reprisals from the Myanmar military.

Bangladesh had planned to send an initial group of 2,251 back from mid-November at a rate of 150 per day. 

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