Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thai King Urges Government To Spend More, HIS MAJESTY's BIRTHDAY SPEECH

King urges government to spend more

BANGKOK: -- His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Tuesday emphasised the country's need to boost its spending in light of the strengthened Thai currency.

"Now that the baht is exceedingly strong and the government has plenty of cash, it should spend more. Sufficiency economy means those who have money should spend. There is no need to be stingy," His Majesty said.

The King made his address to Cabinet members, privy councillors and high-ranking officials at Dusidalai Pavilion in Chitralada Palace on the eve of his 80th birthday.

He noted that it might not be appropriate for the present government which has only a few months in office to spend on arms and ammunition but the next government should feel free to do so.

"I raise this issue because we must seriously consider how to purchase arms and munitions which are necessary," the monarch said. "These days the army also must help the people when there are floods."

"You have good ideas; so don't feel inferior. If you want to buy ships, aircraft or tanks, do it," King Bhumibol said.

The King also urged the Thai people to unite, otherwise the country would collapse and "if that happens, many consequences will follow."

Comparing the nation to a body, he said if bones in the body are broken, the person will need to be hospitalised.

"If we are not careful, the country will collapse. If the country collapses, where shall we live?" the King added.

Touching on the construction of dams, King Bhumibol said the issue has always been criticised due to misunderstanding, indicating that a dam must be well managed after it is built.

"In order to operate a project, management is the key," he said. "Everything has to be well managed, be it the project itself or the financial aspects."

King calls for unity, use of bio-fuels

BANGKOK: -- His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Tuesday called for national unity in a classic birthday-eve speech that covered a wide range of topics including global-warming, the wisdom of buying submarines and his reason for wearing a pink jacket recently.
In keeping with tradition, the king, who turns 80 on Wednesday, addressed a gathering of more than 23,000 well-wishers at Chitralada Palace to mark his birthday.
This year's speech began humourously, with the king admonishing his 2-year-old grandson Dipangkorn Rasmijoti - the son of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn - for talking during the ceremony.

"He is like his father. He talks a lot," the King said of his grandson's interruptions.
The king used his recent hospitalization and difficulties walking to urge Thais to work together for the sake of the nation.

"My legs don't walk in union. I was saying the other day that the military and civilians need to be united. If we are not united, the country will face disaster,"
Thailand experienced a military coup on September 19, 2006, which overthrew elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whom the generals accused of massive corruption, dividing the nation and threatening the monarchy.

After being under an appointed interim government for the past 15 months, Thailand is scheduled to hold a general election on December 23 to return power to the people.
Many fear that the country could be thrown back into political chaos if political parties loyal to Thaksin return to power, leading to yet another military coup.
Another worry for the future is the king's frail health. King Bhumibol was released from hospital November 7 after receiving treatment for nearly four weeks for insufficient blood flow to the brain.

But the king assured the nation that he was feeling well.
"Tomorrow I will be 80. I am still young and strong," he joked.
The king started a new fashion trend in Bangkok when he wore a pink jacket leaving the hospital "I'm already old. I don't want to dress like a bore," said the king of his flashy jackets.
Thais have been wearing yellow shirts since last year to show their love for their monarch, who was born on a Monday. Thais believe that each day has a lucky colour, such as yellow for Monday and red for Sunday.

On a serious note, King Bhumibol used his birthday eve speech to admonish the navy for recently expressing the wish to buy a submarine, noting that submarines were unsuitable for Thailand. The Gulf of Thailand is a notoriously shallow body of water.

The king, known for his sufficiency-economy theories, also encouraged the manufacture of bio-fuel from palm oil, which can be grown domestically, to reduce dependency on imported oil.
King Bhumibol has been the one constant in Thai politics for the past six decades of military coups, fractious civilian governments and the wholly new phenomenon of a populist regime under Thaksin, a billionaire businessman, from 2001 to 2006.

The king, who ascended to the throne in 1946 at a time when the monarchy had lost much of its majesty, has restored the institution as one of the key pillars of Thai society and political stability by a demonstrated devotion to his people, especially the poor, in thousands of royally sponsored development projects.
At times of past political crisis, the king has stepped in to offer counsel, leading to peaceful resolutions.

"Without his majesty's guiding hand, we would not be where we are today: a nation which has invariably demonstrated its inner strength, political resilience, social harmony and economic dynamism - a trait which has enabled the Thais to survive many a threat and misfortune in their long history," former Thai prime minister Anand Panyarachun said in a recent speech.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Japanese tourist slain at ancient capital

SUKHOTHAI: -- A Japanese tourist was slain and robbed over the weekend while visiting Thailand's ancient capital of Sukhothai during Loy Krathong, or the Water Candle festival, police said Monday.

The body of the tourist, identified only by her first name Nomoko, was found with her throat slashed and her possessions stolen Sunday in the grass at the side of the road leading to one of the more remote ruins of the Sukhothai cultural heritage site.

Police said the woman rented a bicycle on Saturday to visit a temple on the outskirts of the main Sukhothai complex, a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Sukhothai Police Chief Major General Thirrin Padungchiwit ordered a manhunt for the perpetrators of the murder. "This is a priority case because it has damaged the reputation of Sukhothai and the entire country," said Thirrin.

The ancient ruins of Sukhothai, which was Thailand's main kingdom between 1250 to 1376, is a major tourist draw during the Loy Krathong festival, observed in Thailand on the night of the full moon in November by floating small vessels with candles and decorations in lakes, ponds and rivers to carry away one's sins.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Koh Similan in Phang-Nga

Koh Similan

Lying 80 kilometres northwest of Phuket, Koh Similan is the main attraction of the Similan group of islands, all of which are in Similan Island National Marine Park. There are nine islands in the group, each having a name and a number (the first island in the group is called ‘Koh Bon but also goes under the name “Koh Nung” – “Island Number One”). Most of the islands in the group are uninhabited, but all are accessible from Koh Similan. Like the rest of the park, Koh Similan is a major draw for people interested in diving. The waters around Similan offer up to 30 metres visibility, and there is a lot to see beneath the waves. Aside from a huge variety of coral, the underwater seascape offers large granite boulders with gaps in rock where more experienced divers can swim through. Hat Khao Lak beach offers the best diving in the Similan islands. Similan Island also boasts a long curving bay with white sand beaches and clear water - an ideal destination for snorkelling. Koh Similan is also an excellent location for hiking and offers treks to the tops of granite outcrops to take in the island’s superb views. There is also an extensive range of wildlife on the island including spiny lobsters, sea fans, plume worms and a large variety of species of birds.

Details: As it is in a National Park, there is a 200 Baht admission fee to Similan.

How to get there: To get to the Similan Islands boats leave the piers in Thap Lamu sub-district and Ta Kua Pa District. The 40-kilometre journey takes three hours.

To book accommodation or to arrange food on Koh Similan contact the Royal Forestry Department:

Tel: (579) 0529, (579) 4842

James Bond Island in Phang-Nga

James Bond Island

What does it take to put a tourist destination on the international map? Great beaches, crystal clear water, clement weather? Not really… You are certainly best off trying to get it into a James Bond movie! The 1974 film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ is remembered for three things; a gun (made up of gold jewellery), an arch villain (Scaramanga), and those odd shaped little islands where Scaramanga set up base.

Although on the tourist circuit they are collective know as James Bond Island, there were in fact two islands featured in the movie. Koh Khao Phing Kan in Phang-Nga Bay was the bad guy’s base and cone-shaped (broad at the top and narrow at the bottom) Koh Tapu where he hid what we would call today a ‘weapon of mass destruction’.

Although there is no doubt that James Bond Island is a ‘must see’ destination, you are probably aware of what you will get. Most people reach the island by tour and although there are some genuinely beautiful sights to be seen, the tours usually involve you being dropped of on a beach to be confronted by swarms of vendors trying to palm off tasteless souvenirs! Classic! The tours do often include a lunch at Koh Panyi which is a step in the right direction.

Our advice: Do it… despite everything, it’s an enjoyable trip!

How to get there: There is a bus boat that moves around the islands and ends up at James Bond Island but by far the largest number of people do this trip via a tour from Phuket that takes people through some of the major sites on the way. Alternatively, take a boat cruise from the north of Phuket Island – less crowds and a bit quieter.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Khao Lak

In many people's minds, the region of Phang Nga Province known as Khao Lak will be forever linked to the events of December 26, 2004. That fateful day saw the biggest tsunami in living memory sweep over the coastline up to 4kms inland, taking thousands of lives and livelihoods in its wake.

The official tsunami death toll for Phang Nga stands at 4,225 out of a total of 5,395 victims throughout Southern Thailand.

The 2005/06 high season saw visitors trickle back into the region, but predictably numbers were well down on previous years. There have been reports of unscrupulous travel agents in places such as Phuket and Ko Samui saying the region was completely destroyed, no doubt hoping to secure more tourist dollars for themselves. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Those who do stay away are missing out on some of Thailand's best beaches, world-class diving and some stunning hinterland. Perhaps more importantly, they're missing out on supporting the people of a region that came to depend on tourism and will face economic hardships until people come back.

The beaches are clean, the shops and nightspots are mostly open. There's tonnes of accommodation and plenty more on the way. The message Khao Lak's locals want to scream to the world is that they're still there, and by the 2006/07 high season the region will be better than ever.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Phang Nga travel guide

This medium-sized province is bordered by Phuket, Ranong, Surat Thani and Krabi provinces and also has coastline onto the Bay of Phuket and the Andaman Sea. Best known as being home to some of Thailand's most spectacular marine scenery, Phang Nga also has a number of other attractions well worth seeing.

Off its west coast lies the Surin and Similan Island groups, home to some of the last well preserved coral reefs in Thailand. Both of these groups can be visited from Phang Nga province.

In the Bay of Phuket lies the twin islands of Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai - these two islands are little visited, yet well worth the effort. Although part of Phang Nga province, they are best visited from either Phuket or Krabi provinces. The big attraction in the bay is the spectacular karst scenery that is found through out the north of the bay. Popularised in the west by a James Bond Film, the bay offers some stunning opportunities for boat trips and sea-canoeing tours.

Phang Nga is a wet province, and island you'll find numerous waterfalls, although lack of infrastructure will mean you'll need your own transport to get to some of them.

Often added as an after-thought by many travellers, there is actually loads to do in the province and its well worth spending at least a couple of days exploring some of its highlights.

The Andaman Sea coast of Phang Nga province was devastated by the Boxing Day Tsunami, with the Khao Lak area the worst hit in all of Thailand. We have closed that portion of the site until we revisit it in late 2005.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Welcome to Phang-nga

Welcome to Phang-nga

The province of Phang-nga is located some 788 kilometres from Bangkok, Thailand. It covers an area of 4,170 square kilometres.

Phang-nga is a province with two characters - land and sea - and packed with national parks that guard magnificent scenery with immensely different attractions.

Most famous is Ao Phang-nga National Park, a geological wonder filled with islets, sunken caverns and startling rock formations rising sheer out of the sea. The bay is extremely sheltered ideal for expeditions of sea canoes to explore the many fascinating caverns with their own eco-systems.

Phang-nga's andaman coast offers parks of a different kind. The island groups of Surin and Similan are renowned for their beautiful unspoilt beaches and spectacular underwater scenery, attracting divers from around the world. Khao Lak is a coastal park full of birds, mammals and scenic waterfalls, with a number of hotel developments after Tsunami disaster in December 2004.