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Phuket’s monsoon – here comes the green season

Bill Barnett

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Phuket’s monsoon – here comes the green season | The Thaiger
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by Bill Barnett of c9hotelworks.com

Rainy season often brings a shroud of darkness over the island, when strong showers can even make it difficult seeing anything farther away than the short span across the road from my office. Imagine pulling a hoodie over your head on a sunny day and dropping suddenly into the netherworld of dimly lit shadows.

These green season weather changes seem to bring out the dark side of Phuket’s residents. All too often around the traps, in distant tones, or else plying the internet chatter, comes the rabid talk about the utter worthlessness of our current crop of tourists.

Just hash tag in #cheap, #stampeding groups, or #emerging markets and you’ll soon get the vibe. It’s nasty, petty and viewed through a tunnel so long and deep that there is seemingly no escape out the other end.

My mind often flashes back to the art house movie with an ethnic twinge, ‘A Day Without Mexicans’, which chronicles a mysterious happening which results in all the Latinos disappearing one day from a California town. It’s a funny, profound and a somewhat sad tale of myopia gone over the edge.

What would happen here in Phuket if suddenly all of the tourists disappeared? The strange thing after all, is that the people who do the loudest complaining or constantly voice their grumbling discontent are mostly expatriate residents. I can’t reconcile their rationale, given that these same folks must have arrived at one point as a tourist who eventually just decided to take a permanent island vacation.

Phuket's monsoon - here comes the green season | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: intoPhuket

I’m still a relative newcomer, having landed here a bit after the Millennium, but I can still recall the days before Central Festival appeared, when traversing the island was a fast and simple task. Over more than a decade, Phuket’s prosperity has seen the rapid rise of an urban resort island in the throes of what could be summed up as growing pains.

Today, the bountiful offering includes quality medical institutions, international schools that can be counted on both hands, marinas, malls, restaurants, housing estates and attractions. You can connect to flights around the world directly whether you are headed down under, to Europe, the Middle East or throughout Asia.

Where we once lived in the land of little or no choice, today the options are varied. Sure, as quantity came, one of the knock-on effects was a quality offering. You no longer have to travel to Bangkok or Singapore to shop or find those objects of desire. The world has come to Phuket.

How did this all happen? Tourism has provided jobs, income, and opportunity not only for Thais but also for a growing number of expatriates. Where better to raise a family or start a business and still be able to live in one of the finest tropical islands on earth.

And yet the voices of discontent arise. Popular themes include the nostalgic musings wondering why Phuket can’t Phuket be the way it used to be, and how come the new stream of travellers aren’t well behaved like those from a bygone era? For me, nostalgia is an old man’s game best undertaken from a bar stool.

Remembering is good, but living in the present is an even better adventure.

Bashing tourists harkens back to those who oppose immigration. What fuels these illogical thoughts are the human spirit’s dark sides of racism, intolerance and closed-mindedness. The world is a big place, with more and more people arriving every day; face it, our journey today is one without maps to a place we’ve never been before.

Yes, my patience has been tested by those who complain about traffic or crowded beaches. Do you really think Villa Market, where you happily ply around the aisles, would be here if the property market had not been spun out of the tourism sector?

To sum it up, I’m not adverse to those around me voicing their opinions or complaints, but please just keep a balanced, mindful view of how we got to where we are, and appreciate those tourists who bring their hard-earned currency to spend here in Phuket.

As to what the future may bring, Edward T McMahon voiced it very well when he said, “Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is “how?”

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Bill Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the Asian hospitality and property markets. He is considered to be a leading authority on real estate trends across Asia, and has sat at almost every seat around the hospitality and real estate table. Bill promotes industry insight through regular conference speaking engagements and is continually gathering market intelligence. Over the past few years he has released four books on Asian property topics.

World

Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies – May the force be with him

The Thaiger

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Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies – May the force be with him | The Thaiger

“…his swish with the black cape and his screen presence in the foreboding, shiny black high-tech exoskeleton won him a legion of fans.”

Darth Vader has died… May the force be with him. The man who played the bad guy in the first Star Wars trilogy, British actor David Prowse, died at the age of 85 after a short illness.

American actor Mark Hamill, who played Darth Vader’s son, Luke Skywalker, alongside with David and the initial cast of the epic saga, sent his condolences in a tweet.

“So sad to hear David Prowse has passed. He was a kind man & much more than Darth Vader.”

“Actor-Husband-Father-Member of the Order of the British Empire-3 time British Weightlifting Champion & Safety Icon the Green Cross Code Man. He loved his fans as much as they loved him. #RIP”

Star Wars co-star, and fellow Brit, Anthony Daniels, who played the gold-plated and effusive C3PO in all but one of the 12 Star Wars instalments, paid tribute to Prowse’s contribution to the saga.

“Dave’s iconic figure dominated the finished film in ’77 and has done so ever since.”

David wore the ominous black suit and helmet to play the Star Wars villain Darth Vader although it was the American actor James Earl Jones who provided the character’s voice in post-production. George Lucas felt that David’s West Country English accent was “unsuitable for the part”. The decision to replace David’s voice caused a long-term rift between actor and director that eventually saw David cut out of official Star Wars publicity events. But his swish with the black cape and his screen presence in the foreboding shiny black high-tech exoskeleton won him a legion of fans.

Darth Vader actor David Prowse dies - May the force be with him | News by The Thaiger

David’s career as an actor spanned 50 years, but it was his role as the Sith Lord in Star Wars that brought him international fame and attention.

But it was his role as the “Green Cross Code Man” from a British road safety campaign that Prowse said he was most proud of. David was awarded an MBE, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in 2000 for that role.

David Prowse was born into a working class family and grew up in a council estate in Southmead, in southwestern England. He gained a scholarship to attend Bristol Grammar School. He had a passion for bodybuilding and was crowned British Weightlifting Champion several times in the 1960s. He became lifelong friends with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger in his weightlifting years.

His towering figure helped land him roles as monsters and villains in TV shows and films. He played the monster in “The Horror of Frankenstein” in 1970 and a bearded torturer in “Carry on Henry” in 1971. That same year he made an appearance as a bodyguard in Stanley Kubrick’s dystopian film “A Clockwork Orange” in 1971. He went on to play Darth Vader in all three of the original “Star Wars” films, in 1977, 1980 and 1983.

With the success of Star Wars, Prowse became a regular on the fan circuit and attended conventions around the world for almost 40 years, but he was rumoured to have later fallen out with director Lucas and was banned from official events in 2010.

He published an autobiography, “Straight from the Force’s Mouth,” in 2011.

SOURCES: Reuters | CNN | BBC

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Chiang Rai

Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia

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Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The entrance to the real Tham Luang cave near the Myanmar border in far north Thailand

The Australian Government is putting up A$13 million to Imagine Entertainment and film giant MGM to shoot a live-action feature film called Thirteen Lives, based on the Chiang Rai Tham Luang cave rescue story. The film will be shot in Queensland, Australia in the hinterland areas behind the Gold Coast.

The film will be directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The Da Vince Code, Cocoon, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Splash, Frost/Nixon), and start filming in March 2021. The state’s Gold Coast hinterland will double for Thailand with a similar hot, humid climate.

The Australian Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP, says the production should inject more than A$96 million into the Australian economy, “directly creating around 435 jobs for cast and crew”.

Thirteen Lives will tell the remarkable story of the effort by many volunteers, including Australians, to undertake an incredibly complex rescue. And I am proud to say that this story will be told here in Australia.”

“I understand this project will also undertake a significant amount of cutting-edge visual effects work here, a great opportunity for our local post, digital and visual effects companies.”

Thirteen Lives follows the true story of the 2018 Tham Laung cave rescue of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, trapped in a cave by heavy rain and flooding in Chiang Rai, far north Thailand. After the team was stuck for days with no supplies and falling oxygen levels, a group of diving and rescue experts from all over the world were called up to work together with their Thai counterparts to save the 13 young men. Among those experts were a group of divers from the United Kingdom and Australia.

The first major feature film about the rescue operation was The Cave, released in October 2019. The film was quite critical of the Thai red-tape which hampered much of the early rescue efforts.

Ron Howard has worked with plenty of Australians in the past.

“From Thirteen Lives to the animated projected I am directing with Animal Logic in Australia, I am excited about the opportunity to film and work in Australia and dramatically expand on that list of collaborators whose sensibilities and work ethic I have long admired and respected.”

Imagine Entertainment and MGM’s Thirteen Lives will be distributed by Universal Pictures International.

Watch a message from director Ron Howard HERE.

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Thailand

Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break

The Thaiger

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Covid tourism standstill gives Thailand’s southern sea gypsies a break | The Thaiger

Phuket’s sea gypsy communities are getting a much needed break after the Covid tourism standstill have their traditions a break from the tourism onslaught. 42 year old Sanan Changham says now there is an abundance of fish and shellfish to eat. Tourist boats have been docked at the quay, making fishing easier for the Chao Lay, or “people of the sea.“

“We don’t dive as deep as before, so it’s less dangerous.“

More than 9 million visitors came to Phuket in 2019, impacting the sea gypsies and their way of life, mostly located at the southern end of the island. The booming tourism brought a decline in fish stocks, decreasing fishing grounds and loud construction of hotels. And the traffic. Such hotels signal an even bigger threat to the 1,200 Chao Lay in Rawai, as property developers have tried to evict them from their ancestral strip of land that faces the sea.

Ngim Damrongkaset, a Rawai community representative, says he hopes the area where developers have taken a stake is abandoned.

“They want to drive us out of our homes, but also to deny us access to the sea.”

For the Chao Lay people, the fight to keep their land has been unequal as most are illiterate and were unaware of the fact that they could register their land, but the government is trying to help them. One way for authorities to buy the land and entrust it to them.

Narumon Arunotai, an anthropologist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, says the government must seize the opportunity provided by the pandemic to rethink their vision on Chao Lay.

“Covid is an opportunity to change mentalities. Mass tourism in Phuket has been a catastrophe for the sea gypsies.“

The land in Rawai was originally claimed by Indonesian ancestors of Sanan, before the island became flooded with international travellers. But since tourism has become more profitable, authorities have cracked down on the sea gypsies unless they are sailing in protected marine reserves.

“Before, we risked being arrested by a patrol or having our boats confiscated.“

For the animist Chao Lay the beach is a vital space where they keep their colourful wooden boats and where they pray and give thanks to their ancestors. But not only their unique cultural heritage has helped them navigate the waters.

The Chao Lay people are experts at detecting any abnormalities in the water, as such they were able to escape before the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami hit, while saving loads of tourists. Furthermore, Children of the Moken have 50% better visual acuity in the water than their European counterparts, according to a 2003 study.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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